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Girls madrassa attached to Lal Masjid to be demolished

Pakistan Govt decides to demolish Jamia Hafsa girls madrassa on the grounds that the building is not stable after the July 11 military raid.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Islamabad
UPDATED ON JUL 23, 2007 02:55 PM IST

Pakistan government has decided to demolish the Jamia Hafsa girls madrassa attached to the Lal Masjid in Islamabad on the grounds that the building is not stable after the July 11 military raid on the complex.

As renovation work was on at a feverish pitch to get the bullet-riddled main mosque ready for holding Friday prayers this week, an operation for demolition of Jamia Hafsa building is in the offing as the structure of the building has been declared as dangerous, media reports here said.

Pakistan religious parties have opposed its demolition and are keen to run the madrassa.

A joint team of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and National Engineering Services of Pakistan (NESPAK) has submitted a report declaring the structure as dangerous.

CDA Chairman Kamran Lashari said a team of structural engineers from CDA and NESPAK submitted a report on Saturday.

"In the light of the report, it is necessary to raze the structure," he was quoted as saying by The News.

However, the future use of land on which Jamia Hafsa was raised is yet to be decided, he said.

The demolishing activity to raze quarters, offices and residences inside the seminary had already been started, he said.

Lashari said the mosque would be ready for prayers by Friday well in time to meet the deadline given by the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) President Qazi Hussain who has threatened to lead his followers to offer Friday prayers there.

"We will complete the work by July 25 and then it will be up to the local administration that how many days it would require to appoint a new Imam for the mosque," he said.

The mosque would forgo its branded red colour reflecting radical Islam for which it became symbol.The mosque's exterior walls had been painted beige and the interior apple green while its boundary walls had also been lowered from 10 feet to three feet, Lashari said.

The government had already approved a Rs 13 million plan to renovate and remodel the mosque, which was badly damaged in the eight-day battle that claimed 102 lives.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz will select a new Imam for the Lal Masjid.

The Auqaf Department of Islamabad administration, which had been asked to come up with a names of eligible and suitable clerics, had finalised its proposal and sent it to the Prime Minister's Secretariat.

The proposal carries the names of three clerics. "We are trying to appoint an unbiased and uncontroversial man as new Imam of Lal Masjid," Dawn quoted an official as saying.

It is believed that the appointment of a new Imam from the same Deoband school of thought to which slain radical cleric Abdul Rashid Aziz belonged would be quite difficult, and it would be equally an uphill task for the new Imam to face criticism and security threats.

Meanwhile, police yesterday found a body of an unidentified male from the debris lying in the vicinity of Lal Masjid.

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