Lal Masjid has once again been cordoned off by law enforcement Wednesday evening after the deadline given to former cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, his family and students to vacate the premises expired.

Officials from the capital administration and police told Dawn the mosque was cordoned off because the occupants were given a deadline to vacate the premises by Wednesday. They said an agreement was reached with Mr Aziz on Sunday under which he would be allotted land for Jamia Hafsa and the mosque would be vacated in return. Whereas the maulana’s nephew, Haroon Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, denied that they had agreed to vacate the mosque.

They said the move was also a part of security arrangements ahead of the visit of the president of Turkey and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s appearance before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which is close to the mosque.

The contingent was deployed around the mosque on Municipal Road, Masjid Road and Shaheed-i-Millat Road, as well as at the weekly market adjacent to the mosque. Entry into the mosque has been restricted, and only area residents are allowed to enter to offer prayers. The police deployed in the area are asking people to show their CNICs to confirm their addresses, the officials said. People are also being searched if found to be suspicious.


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