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Pakistan to rebuild seven mosques

world Updated: Jun 20, 2007 17:51 IST
IANS
Lal Masjid

The Pakistan government has decided to rebuild seven mosques in the national capital with the hope of ending a prolonged siege at a girl's seminary that has continued at the behest of the Lal Masjid imam.

The interior ministry and Wafaq-ul-Madaris, the body that oversees the functioning of Islamist seminaries, have agreed to rebuild seven mosques, Religious Affairs Minister Ejaz-ul-Haq announced in Islamabad on Tuesday.

The government has widely been criticised for not acting firmly to clear the siege of the library section of a seminary by girl students under the leadership of the imam of Lal Masjid. The siege began when the authorities demolished some mosques as part of town planning.

Haq said that Pakistan Muslim League-Qaid's (PML-Q) president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had visited the Lal Masjid three times to reach an amicable solution.

He said Hussain had assured the Lal Masjid administration that the demolished mosques would be reconstructed. He said the matter had been resolved through consensus and reconciliation, the Daily Times reported.

However, the minister expressed dismay over the continued occupation of the children's library by the Lal Masjid administration. He urged the Lal Masjid ulema to end the occupation immediately and show flexibility.

There were reports of plans to send in women commandos to clear the seminary. But the efforts were halted in favour of seeking a negotiated settlement.

These have not succeeded, while the imam has been sending out edicts against different people who he believes have blasphemed Islam. One of them is the country's Tourism Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar after photographs appeared showing her allegedly hugging her male coach after a para-jump in France.