This picture, taken 28 March 2007, shows Pakistani cleric Abdul Aziz (C) surrounded by guards as he stands on the roof of the Lal Masjid or Red Mosque during in Islamabad —File Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court has constituted a judicial commission to probe the 2007 Lal Masjid operation – a government crackdown on a controversial pro-Taliban mosque in the capital which ended in a bloody eight-day siege killing at least 58 Pakistani troops and seminary students.

“Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed today that police have failed to satisfy the court and ordered a judicial commission to probe the matter,” said Tariq Asad, a lawyer involved in the case.

The pro-Taliban mosque, with the radical Maulana Abdul Aziz leading several armed seminary students, had announced the establishment of a parallel judicial system, vowing to enforce Islamic Shariah laws in the federal capital and threatening to unleash a wave of suicide bombers if the government took any action to counter it.

A military raid in July 2007 under then president Pervez Musharraf eventually overcame the armed militants.

However, several questions regarding the operation were left unanswered.

The Supreme Court took up the case the same year to demand answers to several questionable aspects of the siege, including the legality of the operation and the large number of civilian deaths in the raid.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, continued hearing the case here on Tuesday. During the proceedings, a report prepared by Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police Tahir Alam Khan was presented before the court.

After reviewing progress achieved so far in the investigation on the case, the bench appointed senior judge of the Federal Shariat Court, Shahzado Shaikh, to head the judicial commission.

Police has been ordered to hand over all documents relating to the case to the one-man commission, which will be tasked to answer these questions:

What were the reasons behind the Lal Masjid operation? How many civilians and security personnel were killed in the operation? Were all the dead identified and bodies handed over to their loved ones? Were the victims’ families paid the compensation promised by the government? Was any legal action initiated against those who carried out the operation? With the available evidence, is it possible to identify those responsible for the casualties during the siege and the raid on the mosque?

The commission has been directed to present its report in a period of 45 days.

Critics say the apex court’s move could fan further tensions between the judiciary and the army.

Political analyst Hasan Askari said it was unclear what the commission could achieve other than to provide militant groups with a forum and reprimand the then government, given that Musharraf is no longer in power or in Pakistan.

“It's their desire to be populist, they know they'll get support on this from the Islamists, the right wing and it also goes against the army,” Askari told AFP.

“The army is already unhappy with the judiciary so the judiciary is hitting in all directions and it is causing political uncertainty in an already uncertain and confused political system,” he added.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (59)

iqbal Khan
December 4, 2012 8:35 pm
All those in the Lal Mosque should be charged for committing blasphemy first because they brought the guns and boms in the mosque to start with and completely ruined the reputation of a peaceful religion.I hope commission will include this aspect also.
Nad
December 4, 2012 8:54 pm
Answering these questions does not serve purpose of judiciary and CJ
Logical thinker
December 4, 2012 2:53 pm
Why SC is giving priority to these kind of cases where sympathizer of terrorist groups are benefited. Why don't they solve the cases of public whose cases are delayed for more than 10 years and work to reduce the suffering of common man due to delayed justice.
M. Sajid
December 4, 2012 1:05 pm
Absolutely correct. Scope of investigation should focus more on these things. How come those crazy cleric be allowed to set up a parallal set up under the nose of the government seat. Action taken by the then government was the right response to the situation.
Sayeed Altaf Hussein
December 4, 2012 1:05 pm
The commission has left out the most important questions. Who were these armed people in the mosques and what were they doing with arms in the House of Allah. Why should the enemies of the state be compensated? The siege of the Lal Masjid lasted more then two weeks and government of the time gave every chance for these thugs to surrender but they refused. The commission is set up to encourage such organisations that would not only harm but will destroy Pakistan. This is waste of tax payers’ money. Has the Chief Justice nothing better to do? How about corruption at the very heart of our government. The Railway, PIA, Steel Mills and other organisations where the management is ripping off the state. He has allowed Zardaris, Sharifs and Chaudries to get away with every thing yet he is concern with this case. How ridiculous is this?
Masood Naqvi
December 4, 2012 10:37 pm
Perfect. Hundred of thousand people all over the world watched live coverage of the operation and observed how much amunition was used from the mosque, how many security personal were killed by the terrorist from inside the mosque. how the terrorist kept the Capital hostage for more than a year and no action was taken against them while the mosque is next door to the ISI header quaters in Islamabad. what is the alternate strategy court will suggest to cope with the anti state elements.
paki
December 4, 2012 12:45 pm
our supreme court Mashallah takes prompt action on any incident which involes terrorist/taliban
Bilal
December 4, 2012 12:48 pm
Ok.. So, the CJP is saying that Abdul rasheed his brother and his gunmen were on the 'right' when they were blazing guns at common citizens to impose their version of Law without any legal/moral authority? What a pity, CJP has not left any stone unturned to keep himself in the lime light.
karim
December 4, 2012 2:44 pm
I think the Lal masjid gangsters got what they deserved. A more important historical issue to the residents of the Twin cities would be Ojhri Camp blast in 1988, that mystery is still unsolved.
Shahzad Latif
December 4, 2012 2:16 pm
"The pro-Taliban mosque, with the radical Maulana Abdul Aziz leading several armed seminary students, had announced the establishment of a parallel judicial system, vowing to enforce Islamic Shariah laws in the federal capital and threatening to unleash a wave of suicide bombers if the government took any action to counter it."...... is CJ okay?
saleem
December 4, 2012 2:06 pm
and he was the CJ when his son looting the money with both hands
Hassan
December 4, 2012 2:06 pm
So a suspended CJ is to have no recollection of the events during his suspension, he was in the twilight zone.
Nony
December 4, 2012 12:26 pm
Well this is an appreciable step from Supreme Court; however, enquiries should also be made into killing of Benazir Bhutto, Akbar Bugti, non ending shia genocide and various incidents where unarmed civilians were killed such as attack on Marriot Hotel, PPP’s rally in Khi and many more. The rule of law can only prevail if it applies to all indiscriminately.
Khanm
December 4, 2012 1:08 pm
we never try to find out the root cause, May be it is considered as taboo
Najam uddin
December 4, 2012 1:48 pm
CJ is always proactive except when it comes to his son Arsalan whose questionable business practices still waiting an honest answer.
Razzaq
December 4, 2012 3:00 pm
Have the CJP no better things to do?
AC1960
December 4, 2012 3:14 pm
For Haris, case is no where except the contempt of the court case against the accuser of the son of CJ. Even in that case there is a Inquiry Commission which in this case is not liked by the accuser. If CJ is so honest, he should give preference to the case of his and show to the entire nation and he is there for real justice. Unfortunately this will never happen. Every one seems to be making fool of the Pakistanis.
biharmedia
December 4, 2012 6:12 pm
No temple, mosque / church allow arms.
haris
December 4, 2012 1:45 pm
On 9 March 2007, Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while Lal Masjid siege began in July 2007.
haris
December 4, 2012 1:38 pm
A separate bench was set up by CJP to probe the wrong doings of the culprits and the case is currently in the court. keep your prejudices with yourself until final judgement.
Uzma
December 4, 2012 12:42 pm
Did he ever ask a single question from his son when he was roaming in Monte Carlo? When he was using the CJP's address to run his company? When he was driving exotic cars in the city? CJP has no moral authority to act like a pious man, he should clear himsef from all the alegations brought up against him first..
Nony
December 4, 2012 12:49 pm
Was any legal action initiated against those who carried out the operation? what does this means ? it was security agencies on the orders of govt. of the country, why should legal action be initiated against them ? however, the scope may have been widened to include questions like: who allowed lal masjid clerk to keep too much of amunition ? from where and how did that amunition reach islamabad ? who was funding such expenses of lal masjid ?
Umair
December 4, 2012 12:25 pm
Supreme court is a joke now. Its not taking notice of when this group was threatening the sovereignty of Pakistan.
James
December 4, 2012 12:25 pm
Why they were with guns in the mosqe ? why the leaderss of the red mosque was forcing people to close their business ? what the talibans were doing inside the red mosque , Why alqaida was there ? no body asking this WHY?
Javed
December 4, 2012 2:12 pm
I appreciate Pakistan Army for taking action against the terrorists of Lal Masjid. We should be grateful to the Pakistani Army Jawans and Army Martyrs, who lost their lives to protect us from these terrorists.
ali hassan
December 4, 2012 2:21 pm
The whole inquiry is maligned. If it was genuine then questions such as Where did the guns come from? Who was behind these Mullahs and students? Who gave these guys the authority to announce their own law and build their own force? Who were all those people carrying guns, bullet proof vests, hand grenades, where did these people come from, where did all their guns came from? Who was providing them money? Where is impartiality? Supreme court has become a joke. Chaudhary is too drunk in his power to know what he is doing. Rather than only getting into political matters what we need the courts to do is to provide justice to the 17 crore or so people living in this country. No justice and only political point scoring wont buy you respect. We are not idiots we know what you are doing.
Ahmad
December 4, 2012 6:18 pm
CJ cousin Rana Sb was behind the genocide of a minority sect in Lahore when their mosques were attacked in Lahore. Lets see when CJ form a commission to investogate it.
A R Khan
December 4, 2012 7:08 pm
Those whom gods wish to destroy..................makes them mad.
Raju
December 4, 2012 6:27 pm
good Answer
Saleem Tahir
December 4, 2012 1:07 pm
Imam e Kaaba could not convince these radical fanatics to lay down the weapons and not desicrate the sanctity of a Masjid by keeping lethal weapons inside the mosque. Islam teaches "there is no compulsion in the matter of faith".Who gave these fanatics the permission to impose their brand of Shariah by the gun
Krs
December 4, 2012 1:08 pm
Even the SCP is failing Pakistan ? Would the SCP asked the same set of irrelevant questions if it had been attacked? It does appear that the SCP is digging up old skeletons from the cupboard just to ensure there are more cases against Musharraf and that he is incarcerated if he steps on Pak soil.Sheer vendetta politics by Ify.
Hassan
December 4, 2012 2:04 pm
This was a case for introspection. If a person cannot see a new BMW standing in his front porch and has to rely on his buddy’s for “fair” trial and a judicial commision on which the other side has no trust. Lets see how long this would drag on, maybe forever.
syed baqar ahsan
December 4, 2012 3:12 pm
For GOD sake when you ll think for general welfare by pushing your crops judges to give quick decision on thousands of cases lying pending.
Abbas
December 4, 2012 1:12 pm
What really is happening in Pakistan is that Islam against Islam govt vs army , army vs the courts , army vs TTP , TTP vs army and police , police vs civilians , MQM vs PPP , PML n vs PML q , ANP vs IJ balochi vs army .....and so on its like Pakistan is a real weapon jungle might is right and in all this madness there is still HOPE for iqbal's Pakistan , at least I have it godbless Pakistan and Pakistani people who are still sane and calm in all this darkness .
Khanm
December 4, 2012 1:16 pm
Why the Supreme Court had not taken up the case the same year to demand answers to several questionable aspects of the siege, including the legality of the operation and the high number of civilian deaths in the raid during Mushraf era.
Khan
December 4, 2012 1:17 pm
CJ and his fellow brother Judges are busy in releasing terrorists they don't have the time to ask these questions. Hope you understand.
AC1960
December 4, 2012 1:20 pm
Yet another action by Chief Justice. He will not achieve anything from this commission except to stay in the news as none of his suo moto actions has not achieved any good result. Why he is not taking action against his own son. the Punjab Government has been running after a judicial stay order, why not a decision on not-so sharif brothers. There is no hope that our country will ever be able to handle the real problems of the country. Why SC did not intervene when all those armed people were staying in the Lal Mosque or what they were doing in the Capital.
Javed
December 4, 2012 3:56 pm
Why were so many terrorists allowed to escape? These are the same animals who along with others, like the TTP, have killed 40,000 of their fellow Pakistani Muslim citizens in the last few years
Sajid
December 4, 2012 4:18 pm
This is unfortunate. CJ is seems settling his personal scores at any cost. Well they were terrorists is beyond debate. God Bless
Najam Saeed
December 4, 2012 1:29 pm
With the question, "Was any legal action initiated against those who carried out the operation?", the court is pronouncing some people/groups guilty even before the probe has begun. I am not sure what good will it do to heal the wounds and move the country forward. Any group that threatens the writ of the government has to be dealt with strongly after due warnings/notices and this is exactly what happened at Lal Masjid. I would love to know the purpose and agenda behind this investigate.
Vijay
December 4, 2012 4:22 pm
Though I am Indian,I support the Pakistan Army in this war against terror.These Taliban are rowdy elements who make use the mask of Islam to terrorize innocent people of Pakistan. I think the Pakistan Army did the right thing to destroy the red mosque which was the base for these Talibanis.
Kiran
December 4, 2012 4:23 pm
This shows how Pakistan judiciary works and how people can justice with such judiciary.
Ahmer
December 4, 2012 5:32 pm
The CJP would not have allowed the Lal Masjid operation if he was not under suspension when it took place.
Rana Muhammad Usman s/o Nisar Ahmad si
December 4, 2012 5:56 pm
it seems that our judiciary is active and alive because it has found a good leader. All the tasks of parliament is doing our judiciary. If our parliamantarians are nt active and like dead then some other org. Or inst. Has to do this and i thnk ths wrk iz dn by our judiciary. All other three pillars of state should draw inspiration from judiciary leadr. I salute to ch. Iftikhar who seems to b serious, and concerned 4 pk affairs. Other 3 leaders, of army, of parliament, of management should work vigilantly for the betterment of our country. If sm wrong thng happens then it should be probed out and solve it. And remove its reasons y it has occured in the past and put barriers in its way. So that it cd nt happen in future.
Ajaya K Dutt
December 4, 2012 6:22 pm
Was there any legal action taken against those who defied law and imposed their own version of law?
imransaudi
December 4, 2012 6:34 pm
Justice shall be done no matter how painful and costly. Askari sahib, we are living in 21st century , please stop your cowardly apprehension regarding army fears. Justice and facts do not weaken any nation, rather it will give confidence and reason to believe in mighty truth. Supreme court should not be made a state tool to protect or hide ruthlessness of any state organ. Llet the affected families of deceased in such incident may get justice and final words of truth from our state system.
abu uzhur
December 5, 2012 1:07 am
Nony Very pertinent observations . Earnestly hope that the honorable SC takes notice of these , and radically revises terms of reference for the commission .
janaan
December 4, 2012 3:46 pm
the scope of investigation should include: 1- why red mosque was holding ammunition cache. 2-why the red mosque was issuing directions for actions against certain businesses. 3-who were the people acting on behalf of taliban and alqaeda. 4-why cleric abdul rasheed was not convicted for the crimes he had commited for instigating mutiny within federal capital aginst the constitution. 5-who motivated and brainwashed the people to act agianst the state. 6-why burqa clad ladies occupied a public libarary and why no legal action was taken agianst them. 7-why red mosque clerics refused to even pay heeds to the most respectable cleric of all, the Imam of Kaaba. 8-why intelligence agencies failed to detect transport of arms, extremist and literature to the mosque. ..........the scope of investigation other than this is submission to the rule of terror. CJP has already proved that.
Michael Malcolm
December 4, 2012 6:02 pm
It is easy to make comments without justification to say why the legitimate action taken. If Musharraf and his cabinet did not take action then the Mullah and his Taliban would have created chaos in the country and possibly it would be more killing and ultimately our brave army would intervened, the saviour of Pakistan. Please leave the army alone and let them do their called up duty. The right question which every loving citizen should ask without being prejudice is WHY WAS SO MUCH ARMS ALLOWED BY THE MULLAH IN THE MOSQUE ? PEOPLE GO THERE TO SEEK ALLAH'S FORGIVENESS AND NOT TO ASK THE MULLAH TO FORCE HIS ISLAMIC RULE.
Muhammad
December 5, 2012 2:29 am
I have always respected SC's actions all along, because SC is the only control over the corrupt government of Pakistan. But in this Lal Masjid case, I clearly feel that Chief Justice Chaudry is taking revenge against Musharraf because Musharraf suspended the Chief Justice. The terms of inquiary are also ridiculous. We all know what Taliban were doing, when Musharraf took action. Musharraf, I remember, took that action with great hesitation and after waiting for a long time for the Taliban to surrender. The SC should learn to control itself. It is already drawing criticism from a lot of people.
nasir
December 4, 2012 3:41 pm
cjp steps are politically motivated. he should take care of Ajmal kasab, jindullah and many militant organization destabilizing our and neighbouring countries.after 60 years of indipendance we still have tribal areas. having jihadi camps and manufacturing of amunition. but our judiciary is playing game against democracy. calling for preventing to any single party in rule over karachi. they want to settle large number of pakhton jehadis surround karachi. thry are helping to giving them voting power.
Ronnie Dsouza
December 4, 2012 8:41 pm
WAY TO GO, Noni, this is exactly what needs to be asked from the Judiciary, instead, it's just the other way around. It's a witch-hunt for Gen. P. Musharaf really, if you know what I mean.
Javed
December 4, 2012 1:12 pm
The government took action to get rid of the terrorists who had occupied Lal Masjid, threatening every citizen of Islamabad and were creating a law and order situation. I am grateful that the Government took the action to protect the citizens of Islamabad; otherwise these terrorists would have turned Islamabad into a living hell. It is a shame that the Supreme Court is asking the Government to compensate the terrorists of Lal Masjid and it does not ask the Government to protect people of Pakistan from the terrorists and compensate peaceful Pakistani citizens, who are killed every day by these terrorists. I fail to understand why Supreme Court is doing this?????? Is there any member of the Lal Masjid Brigade sitting in the Supreme Court???? God protect Pakistan from crazy people.
Imran A.
December 4, 2012 4:09 pm
The more the CJP speaks out, the more I realize that what Musharaf did to take him out of office was the right thing to do.
Mohammad
December 4, 2012 4:11 pm
Interesting, why pakistan army unhappy, if they didn't do any thing wrong, they shouldn't be worried about it. And if they did, they should come under the same law. This era of Justice in pakistan can be an example for the coming rulers that no one above the law. Civillian pakistani respect pakistan army, but this doesn't means that they are above the law and nobody can touch them. This attitute should change now thanks Mohammad canada
Sohrab
December 5, 2012 12:01 am
One more feather to the cap of the supreme court for a biased enquiry which is of no benefit to the people of Pakistan. Appointing a senior judge of the FEDERAL SHARIAT COURT to probe the wrongdoings of rabid mullahs and their cohorts who destroyed the peace of my beloved city has nothing to do with justice but to score points. Do we have any hope for the leaders and institutions of our country to pay attention to what is important to us EVER??!! Is this the the same chief justice for whom we spent our energies to put him back to the bench where he would protect our rights and SERVE US well or he is just like the others fightning the battle of HIS OWN ego.
Madan Tiwary
December 4, 2012 6:08 pm
This order of the court clearly shows vindictive attitude to Prevez mussraff. It appearsCJ is having some personal grudge against Mussaraff.
Asif Hussain
December 4, 2012 6:08 pm
The Supreme Court has lost another opportunity to be fair
Shelli Fatima
December 7, 2012 1:18 pm
Mr vijay u dnt know the fact about this LAL MASJID action....I am the witness of all this drama....so please dnt say that....and please there were no terrorists in mosque and u haven't any right to say these things...this is our internal matter..
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