This also comes after Lal Masjid’s chief cleric recently said jihad against the Musharraf regime should be seen as obligatory for all Muslims.
Lal Masjid Update. “Musharraf: Islamic militancy rising,” by Munir Ahmad for the Associated Press:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – President Gen. Pervez Musharraf acknowledged that Islamic militancy was increasing across Pakistan and said tough measures were needed to counter it, as religious students from a pro-Taliban mosque abducted four police officers.
Musharraf made his remarks in an interview aired late Friday by the private Aaj television channel after four plainclothes officers were captured while patrolling in the capital, Islamabad, near the Lal Masjid mosque “” notorious for launching its own anti-vice campaign. Two officers were later released.
The president said that militancy in Pakistan was increasing, and “we need to strongly counter it.” Musharraf did not elaborate.
Abdul Rashid Ghazi, a cleric at Lal Masjid, said his students detained the officers because they were standing outside a seminary linked to the mosque despite an agreement with authorities that police would not be deployed there.
He said the abductions were in retaliation for intelligence agents detaining eight or nine of its students in the past two weeks.
Mohammed Anar, an area police official, said that Ghazi had freed two of the policemen after talks with officials.
“The remaining two policemen will also be freed soon,” Ghazi told reporters.
Critics have accused Musharraf’s government of appeasing the religious vigilantes “” despite concerns that pro-Taliban hard-liners, intent on enforcing a stringent version of Islamic law or Shariah, are gaining sway in Pakistan.