[JURIST] A Pakistani court on Friday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for Maulana Abdul Aziz [official profile], the head cleric of the Red Mosque [BBC backgrounder] in Islamabad. The court order comes after Aziz was accused of threatening protestors who were unhappy with his support of the Peshawar massacre which resulted in the deaths of around 150 people, most of which were children. The cleric stated publicly that the massacre was an understandable action against the army’s “un-Islamic operation,” and roused further suspicions of alleged pro-Taliban leanings during a sermon [Aljazeera report] when he stated “O rulers, O people in power, if you will commit such acts, there will be a reaction.” The issuing of the arrest warrant was met with much public support, but leaders of the Red Mosque are adamant in their resistance, citing a lack of grounds for arrest. Execution of the warrant might be difficult because of the police’s reluctance [Daily Star report] to arrest Aziz following his promise to instigate a country-wide protest should he be taken into custody.
The Peshawar massacre earlier this month, and the subsequent vilification of Maulana Abdul Aziz for his support of it, is only the latest result in the anti-terrorism [JURIST report] fight within Pakistan between supporters and opposers of the Taliban. This internal struggle has gained international recognition. Earlier this month the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] condemned [JURIST report] the Taliban and their execution of the massacre as “savage extremism.” Also this month Pakistan reinstated [JURIST report] the death penalty in terrorism related cases, prompted by the swift and impactful effects of the massacre within the country. This decision has been met with resistance [JURIST report] by human rights organizations who stressed that no judiciary can be infallible.