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Civil society opposes Qazi court

ISLAMABAD, April 9: Prominent civil society organisations have condemned the establishment of Qazi Court by the administration of Lal Masjid, saying it is in violation of the constitution of Pakistan.

In a joint statement, Women Action Forum, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pattan Development Organisation, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Sungi, Aurat Foundation, Rozan, Poda (Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy), Actionaid, Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) and The Network said the announcement to establish a parallel judicial system by the khateeb of Lal Masjid was clearly an attempt to subvert the constitution of Pakistan.

They demanded that the higher judiciary and the government should immediately take action against all those who have committed this act of treason.

They referred to clause 6 of the constitution which says “Any person who abrogates or attempts or conspires to abrogate, or to subvert the constitution by use of force or show of force shall be guilty of high treason”.

The civil society organisations denounced the inaction of the government against the religious extremists of Jamia Hafsa and Jamia Fareedia who have taken the law in their own hands and have been using violence and threat of violence to terrorise citizens who do not fit their narrow-minded brand of Islam.

They demanded that the government should establish the writ of the state by taking immediate legal action against those who have illegally occupied the children’s library, abducted women and a child and have now established a so-called sharia court.

“All citizens in general and women and minorities in particular are suffering from an extreme sense of insecurity due to the intimidation and threats hurled by the students of Jamia Hafsa. Any further delay in this regard will force civil society to commence a protest movement not only against these religious extremists but also the government that has failed to protect citizens’ rights,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Aasim Sajjad of the People’s Rights Movement has also condemned what he said the terror being spread by students and clerics of Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid and the sheer complicity of the government in this connection.

“The current state of affairs speaks volume about the long- term relationship that the state has cultivated with forces of religious obscurantism,” he said in a statement on Monday. “Over the last three decades, a vacuum has been created by the state’s repression of progressive political and cultural alternatives in which the religious right has prospered.”

He said the military and its ‘partners’ had paralysed organic politics in Pakistan and made a mockery of all democratic norms and ethics.

The recent action against the chief justice of Pakistan and the Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid situation should not be considered separate events, but a reflection of the inherent tendencies of a dictatorial political system.

The removal of the chief justice reflected a breakdown in the internal consensus of the ruling regime, while the escalation of situation in Jamia Hafsa/Lal Masjid suggested that there were factional struggles within the establishment over the nature of the engagement with the religious right.

Agencies add: Religious scholars and civil society leaders urged the ulma and students of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa to avoid violence and concentrate on their studies.

Pronouncing to enforce Shariah with force through baton- wielding madressah students as illegal, unconstitutional and un- Islamic, they said nobody can support this policy of confrontation.

Source: Dawn