Police have turned up the heat on controversial Lal Masjid supremo Abdul Aziz, issuing warrants for his arrest on Friday, following the registration of an FIR against the firebrand cleric for threatening civil society members who had protested against his refusal to condemn the Peshawar tragedy.
Police officers with whom Pakistan leading daily Dawn spoke to on Friday said that the government had already ordered the police to detain those who were included in the 4th Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act due to the tense situation, which had developed in the aftermath of the Army Public School massacre.
However, police officers said they were finding it hard to implement the orders in the case of Abdul Aziz, and feared that his detention under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) may create a law and order situation. The cleric has already threatened to launch a countrywide protest if he is arrested, a claim he made during a Friday sermon delivered last week.
The officer refused to answer when Dawn asked whether the cleric was currently at his residence. Other officials, however, claimed that Aziz had moved out of his residence and was currently living elsewhere, ostensibly to delay his possible arrest.
Meanwhile, at least 55 militants were killed in airstrikes and a gun battle with ground forces in Pakistan's troubled northwest where the military launched a major offensive this year, officials said yesterday.
The army intensified its offensive after the massacre of 150 people in a school in Peshawar this month, a carnage which Pakistan described as its own "mini 9/11" and a game-changer in the fight against extremism.