APPARENTLY not satisfied with the Islamabad police’s investigation of the 2007 Lal Masjid stand-off, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the formation of a one-man commission to probe the episode, in response to complaints filed by the heirs of those missing since the operation. A police official told the court that nearly all the 103 ‘missing’ persons had been killed and that the majority of them comprised militants; only 16 people remained unidentified. The official also denied that any women students of Jamia Hafsa, the women’s seminary attached to Lal Masjid, were killed in the operation.

While this gory episode must be investigated, the probe should cover all aspects — the details of the dead and missing as well as the events that led to the battle between the state and the militants holed up inside the mosque. There is no doubt that brute force was used to crush the militants, and one indication of this is that there were no survivors after the operation. Why was this level of force necessary? Was it intentional? On the other hand, the Lal Masjid forces, led by Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who was killed in the hostilities, had rebelled against the Pakistani state. Before the stand-off began in July 2007 a Sharia ‘court’ had been set up in the mosque while the Jamia Hafsa students launched a violent campaign of intimidation in the capital to enforce their rigid brand of religion. The Lal Masjid elements had also occupied government buildings and attacked security men and had openly displayed sophisticated weapons before the assault.

So while the commission needs to look into how many people were killed and who gave the orders for the crackdown, it must also examine how a mosque was turned into a militant hub in the heart of Islamabad, and how the security establishment failed to detect the stockpiling of heavy weapons in its backyard. In short, along with the government’s handling of the episode, the Lal Masjid phenomenon itself must also be examined. Knowing the names and identities of the dead is important. Maulvi Abdul Aziz, Lal Masjid’s head cleric, and others have been claiming that ‘hundreds’, mostly women, were killed in the assault. An investigation would go a long way in clarifying matters. The commission should also investigate if women were used as human shields by militants. As for the argument that the state defiled a mosque, it should be recalled that similar action was taken by the Saudi government, with sanction from the ulema, in 1979 when zealots stormed the Grand Mosque of Makkah — Islam’s holiest site.

Updated Dec 06, 2012 02:07am

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Comments (14) (Closed)


Naved
Dec 06, 2012 06:52am
Logical and good suggestions. Now a days due to political reasons and prevailing extremist mind set a totally different picture of Lal masjid operation is being presented, although the incident is not so old and every sensible person knows that how and what happended before and during Lal masjid operation. Only one sided analysis and out come of the prob will be really disappointing and will fuel the extremism in Pakistan.
M. Asghar
Dec 06, 2012 12:07pm
This is a good step to find out as to what really happened and who were responsible for this tragic episode.
Baber Khan
Dec 06, 2012 11:38am
It seems you have already made up your mind that the occupants of the Lal Masjid were the cause and not the victims of the operation. Claims that "Lal Masjid forces had rebelled against the Pakistani state," equating "state" with "government" and the assumption that the people inside the mosque were "militants" speak for the bias the writer appears to carry against the Lal Masjid occupants.
ZR
Dec 06, 2012 04:14am
Spot on!!! The question is does the SC have enough courage to take to task either of the parties involved? An Ex General and A Maulana!!!
Zeb
Dec 06, 2012 05:11am
People in Lal Mosque were given a chance to come out and take some money also to go back their home. Even though people are still blaming government action against militants who acquired a huge land of National Book Foundation and constructed Jamia Hafsa on it, use Jamia girls as human shield, threatened government by sensitive and modern weapons. And after the whole story mosque were again given to the same family to run its affairs. More over after the incident other mosques are also acquiring the valuable land in the heart of capital (Like Mosque Abdullah bin Masood at Karachi company where clerks of the mosque has acquired a vast and valuable land of near by CDA inquiry Office). Its all because they know that after that incident and favor of illiterate people by the name of religion nobody can stop them to do like that again again. Perhaps lawlessness country like Pakistan is very productive for all type of land mafia whether religious or non-religious.
Jamal
Dec 06, 2012 08:45am
Typical anti-Musharraf propoganda. Go on with inventing conspiracy theories. It is our favourite pastime.
Iftikhar Husain
Dec 06, 2012 12:36pm
The editorial has put the event correctly. There is going to be an investigation into the episode with keeping in mind that a mosque has been used for terrorists purposes that is not the purpose of a mosque.
Gerry D'Cunha
Dec 06, 2012 02:06pm
lal majid was more of a dual camp - prayers vs trainging camp for jihad
faisal
Dec 06, 2012 02:50pm
To say people inside were not militants shows your own bias.
Agha Ata
Dec 06, 2012 02:55pm
Many witnesses are gone, some died, some forgot what happened, and some changed their minds, some persuaded to be on the other side. I wonder, if an honest, objective investigation can be done in a situation where nothing is transparent or original.
Assad
Dec 06, 2012 05:40pm
Well said Baber. Most don't realize that taking on the State is not an option for any one of us. It weakens the cohesion of our state and nation and cannot be allowed by any functioning government/state. Too bad you got so many thumbs down for the facts and the truth you have stated. Shows how off the moral compass is for many folks that they cannot realize that a wrong is a wrong. If you have problems with immorality, teach people instead of taking on the Government with guns and bombs. If you insist then the Government has all the right to confront and make you accountable to the law.
Syed
Dec 06, 2012 07:55pm
You cannot justify turning a mosque into an ammunition depot , that as well in a Muslim country
Javed
Dec 07, 2012 05:14am
I am grateful to the Pakistan Army for taking action against the terrorists of Lal Masjid. We should be grateful to the Pakistani Army Jawans and Army Martyrs, who sacrificed their lives to protect us from these terrorists. 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?????? Has any member of the Lal Masjid Brigade joined the Supreme Court bench???? God protect Pakistan from crazy people.
Zahid I M
Dec 07, 2012 05:52am
Where is Abbottabad Commission report ???