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Islamic centre to replace Jamia Hafsa

ISLAMABAD, July 25: The government has appointed Maulana Ashfaq as new Khateeb of Lal Masjid, sources said on late Tuesday night. Maulana Ashfaque, 55, is presently khateeb of Bilal Masjid, which is located near Covered market in the sector G-6. The new khateeb of the Lal Masjid has been appointed in basic pay scale-12 and he would be given extra perks and privileges.

A senior official of the local administration said the new Khateeb, belonging to Deobandi school of thought, is a balanced man and free from any controversy.

He said Maulana Ashfaq will lead Friday prayers in the mosque which will be opened for prayers after remaining closed for over 20 days due to an operation against militants which claimed 102 lives including security personnel.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz is expected to visit Lal Masjid on Thursday to inspect the renovation work of the mosque and formally announce the appointment of its new khateeb.

The sources said that the prime minister will also announce construction of an Islamic Centre at the site of Jamia Hafsa which is being demolished, the sources said.

The centre would have a library, an auditorium, a marriage hall and a mini sports gymnasium, the sources said.

Meanwhile, interior ministry spokesman Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema said Lal Masjid would be opened for prayers on July 27.

A foolproof security plan has also been made for Friday prayers in the mosque.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Muttahida Majlis-i- Amal (MMA) had warned to stage a protest demonstration and rallies against the government if the mosque was not opened for prayers by July 27.

He said, the renovation work of Lal Majid was going on at a fast pace and it would be completed by Friday.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) which is renovating the mosque had painted apple green colour on the interior walls of the main hall of the mosque while the outer walls had been painted with binge colour.

The sources said about 80 per cent building of Jamia Hafsa had been demolished and the government had decided to bulldoze the Children's Library adjacent to the women seminary which was illegally occupied by the students of the seminary on January 21, this year.

The interior ministry spokesman said National Engineering Services of Pakistan (NESPAK) had suggested that both Jamia Hafsa and the library buildings had badly damaged in the military operation against militants therefore they could not be used any more.

"We have no other option but to demolish them," he said.

Online adds: A small residential unit would be built at a cost of Rs4 million for the new khateeb and muazzeen within the premises of Lal Masjid. Dawn
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