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shaukat aziz-670
Former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. - File Photo.

ISLAMABAD: Former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Monday said the Lal Masjid operation in July 2007 was not his sole decision.

He stated this while recording his statement with the Lal Masjid commission of Justice Shahzado Sheikh of the Federal Shariat Court from Pakistan’s High Commission in London through a video link.

During his over two-hour-long testimony, Mr Aziz did not take responsibility for ordering the operation. He said it was the interior ministry and the politicians who had been negotiating with the clerics of the mosque.

Mr Aziz said Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was leading the government delegation for the peaceful settlement of the dispute.

Contrary to the statements of some ministers of his cabinet who had earlier informed the commission that the cabinet was kept in the dark over the operation, Mr Aziz claimed that it was the ministry of interior which had approved the operation and later brought the matter to the cabinet.

The cabinet approved the action against the militants with the condition that the law enforcement agencies would rescue the inmates of the mosque without any loss of life, he added.

“It was our achievement that a large number of women and children came out from the mosque before the operation. Those who preferred to live in the mosque and fight the law enforcement agencies were dealt with accordingly,” he added.

When the commission pointed out that at the time of the operation, the then minister interior Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and the secretary interior Syed Kamal Shah were out of the country, Mr Aziz said: “They were accessible on phone or other form of communication and would not shift their responsibility to others by saying they were out of the country.”

He added: “I regret the loss of lives of the inmates of Lal Masjid and the security personnel during the operation but the government was left with no option,” he added.

In reply to a question from the commission, Mr Aziz said he never heard of any demand of the Lal Masjid clerics.

When asked whether he ever tried to explore that the weapons recovered from the mosque were fake or genuine, the former prime minister replied that since he was not a weapon expert.

“It is better that the military authorities be asked about this because the weapons were recovered by the military men,” he added.

Mr Aziz skipped a number of other questions on account of his weak memory and lack of expertise in security-related issues.

The commission after recording the statement of Mr Aziz sent it to Pakistan’s High Commission in London through an email and directed additional district and sessions judge Kamran Basharat Mufti to get the signatures of Mr Aziz on the statement and sent it back to the commission after verifying it from the officials of the High Commission.

Comments (6) Closed

A loyal Paki Mar 19, 2013 09:10am
Despite all his weaknesses, mistakes and lack of political skills- I can bet that Pakistan will never ever get a better and competent Prime Minister than Shaukat Aziz. If we are able to find and place a few more Shaukat Aziz type people in the establishment - I assure you that we will see a different country altogether in the next 10 years. God bless my country.
Peshawar Mar 19, 2013 01:35pm
Shaukat Aziz is a part of the problem, not a solution. If we can't put someone like CJ in the office, then you might as well hand it over to the mullahs now instead of waiting for the crooks to rob eveyone blind & taking a flight to UAE / London like S. Aziz.
Ashfaque Ghouri Mar 19, 2013 02:10pm
Did commission bother or should I say dare to record the testimony of military personnel who actually conducted the operation? Please enlighten us why they can
foulmouthed Mar 19, 2013 02:26pm
Lal masjid assault was a right action to clear out self righteous brigade. If they want change, come through polls.
Nasr KiKi Mar 19, 2013 06:21pm
Mr Peshawar part of the problem may be you who cannot distinguish who is bad and who is good. You letted Mr Zardari and company to 5 years, for what? Only for more mayhem and chaos. Wasn't it, your responsibility that when he and his company were playing around without delivering you should have moved forward and bring him down? "When a ruler is ruthlessly ruling and the people of whom he is the ruler do not raise their voices then such a nation are destined for the wrath of nature" Now look where we are standing. Right at the edge of a steep cliff. One more mistake in the next election and there we will have a fall off that edge into the unknown dept of that steep cliff.
Mohammad Ali Gaad Mar 20, 2013 07:00am
I wonder, Why they are digging up the abyss, when it is time to contest elections.Why they didn't break the silence in this regard before,when there was a lot of time to investigate?