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In this picture taken on June 25, 2007, Khalid Khawaja speaks to reporters in Islamabad. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD, Jan 20: Perhaps inspired by the proverb ‘dead men tell no tale’ the Islamabad administration is now pointing finger at a former official of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for his role in sabotaging the negotiations with the Lal Masjid administration that led to the military operation in 2007.

According to the written reply the Islamabad administration submitted to the one-man commission of Justice Shehzado Sheikh of Federal Shariat Court (FSC), Khalid Khawaja, the former spy, was a close friend of Lal Masjid chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz and his brother Ghazi Abdul Rasheed.

He disrupted the negotiations between the local administration and the management of the mosque which led to the military operation in which 103 people, including 11 military personnel, were killed, said the reply.

“Khawaja had very strong and effective influence over the management of Lal Masjid/Jamia Hafsa particularly Ghazi Abdul Rasheed, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Umme Hassan. This fact transpired when after successful negotiations with Ghazi Abdul Rasheed regarding handing over of the children library to the ministry of education, local administration officials reached Lal Masjid in the evening. All of a sudden, Khawaja along with 10-12 female students appeared on the scene and opposed the decision. His refusal prevailed upon both the brothers and the possession of the library could not be restored to the ministry of education.”

The reply added, “Khawaja was also requested to intervene and resolve the issue of the children library but he responded negatively. He used his influence upon the brothers just to add fuel to the fire.” It said the district administration tried its level best to persuade Khawaja as well.

On failure, he was arrested in June 2007 (a month prior to the operation) under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) and Security of Pakistan Act 1952. The management of Lal Masjid always demanded his release.

According to the reply, Khawaja was released on June 23, 2007, and after his release some Chinese nationals were kidnapped by the students of Lal Masjid.

The Islamabad administration also referred to the capture and murder of Khawaja by the Taliban and added: “Before his murder, Khawaja delivered a speech, which was also uploaded on ‘Youtube’ by his captors. In the speech, he admitted that he played a double role in the Lal Masjid incident. He further disclosed that during the operation he had advised Maulana Abdul Aziz to come out of Lal Masjid by wearing a Burqa,” the reply added.

When contacted, Usama Khalid, son of Khalid Khawaja, told Dawn: “Because my father is a dead man and could not rebut the allegations, the administration wanted to shift the responsibility on him for the Lal Masjid operation.”

He said his father sacrificed his life for a cause and the nation knew him very well. “We don’t care about any allegation but the government should bring the truth before the nation,” he added.

In the statement, the Islamabad administration also gave a chronology of the incident in which the Lal Masjid management and students took the law into their own hands.

Comments (8) Closed

MSAlvi Jan 21, 2013 08:58am
Lal Masjid incident indicates the arrogent and self-right behavior of religious people. Musharraf allowed enough opportunity to the occupants of Lal Masjid to surrender. They did not. Instead, they hardened the demands and forced the government for the action. It is typical of behavior of religious people - "shaheed".
excalibur Jan 21, 2013 05:50am
Why the doubt and in the presence of his speech on you tube ? If the man is dead why use that as an excuse for denying his culpability ?
Sidster Jan 21, 2013 06:57am
Now no one has any thing to say regard to dysfunctional nature of a person's mentality. Here is an investigation that blames the Lal Masjid and no one is will to say that they are wrong. Anyone defending these Islamist, should be blame for the death of 103 people.
Cyrus Howell Jan 21, 2013 09:28am
To kill them is to do them a favor. They would rather die than compromise their righteousness.
Sultan Khan Jan 21, 2013 06:12am
Instead of Mr.Shehzado some secular but god-fearing judge ought to have been appointed as head of the commission. For a religiously minded person , I fear, it is not possible to go against the mullahs despite conclusive evidences against them.
AK Jan 22, 2013 02:19pm
Why there were guns in mosque..........?
Sardar M. Tayyab Haider Khan Jan 21, 2013 05:18am
Lal Masjid management and students took the law into their own hands because gov of Pak gave them Leverage. And the incident placed at there is very bad incident... Sham Full for the gov and other stkeholders Involved in that operation.
AA Jan 21, 2013 10:34am
Religiously minded person does not mean extremist favouring. Even a religious person can be free from bias, if he uses common sense.