Cleric in besieged Pakistan mosque offers surrender

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Pakistani cleric holed up in a besieged mosque in Islamabad said on Thursday his followers in a Taliban-style movement were willing to surrender.

Abdul Rashid Ghazi was speaking in a telephone interview broadcast on Geo Television as security forces surrounded the Red Mosque, where he and hundreds of followers had held off a siege since Tuesday.

“If they are linked to any banned organization, it can be verified,” he said, adding, that there had been a smear campaign to make people believe that militant groups were among the students.

“It can be looked into ... those who are not should be let go,” he said, adding that he was ready to abandon the women’s madrasas in the compound and needed time to arrange to quit the mosque.