ISLAMABAD, June 7: A lawyer who has been pleading the cases of Lal Masjid on behalf of its cleric Maulana Abdullah proposed to the Supreme Court on Friday to order registration of murder cases against the men behind Lal Masjid operation.
Former president General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz and former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Sherpao were allegedly involved in the 2007 bloody military operation in which 103 people were killed.
Advocate Tariq Asad, who was assigned by the apex court on April 18 to go through the contents of the one-man commission of inquiry set up to ascertain the causes of the Lal Masjid military operation, submitted his comments to the apex court on Friday.
Justice Shahzada Sheikh of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC), heading the Lal Masjid commission, in his findings on April 20 gave a clean chit to the military leadership, but held Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz and his political allies responsible for the operation.
The Lal Masjid conflict started when the Jamia Hafsa girls occupied the adjacent Children’s Library on January 22, 2007 in retaliation to the razing of seven ‘unauthorised’ mosques by the city administration.
The confrontation built up in the succeeding month to erupt into armed clashes when a Ranger was killed on July 3, 2007 by gunfire from the mosque. Army was called in the same night and special forces stormed the mosque after suspension of water and electricity supply to the mosque failed to subdue the alleged militants holed up inside.
In his comments, Tariq Asad asked the apex court to also order registration of cases against persons, including the then chairman Capital Development Authoruity (CDA), for allegedly defiling the Holy Quran and books of Shariah.
The counsel recalled that during the hearing of witnesses by the commission Musharraf was summoned four times when he was in London, but he never turned up.
Now Musharraf is in Pakistan, his evidence should be recorded since every other witness has given testimony against him.
Therefore he may be provided the opportunity to defend himself in the interest of justice, the counsel asked adding the evidence be recorded through the commission in person or by video conference or through the registrar of this court.
About the “silence operation,” the counsel argued, the armed forces were not called by the competent authority, besides the military operation was done in a manner as if there was a foreign aggression.
The elements necessary for calling the army ‘in aid of civil power’ and ‘subject to law’ were entirely missing from the chain of events, the counsel argued adding the armed forces had no powers under the constitution to allegedly kill the citizens in a war-like manner. There functions are simply restricted to act in aid of civil power and for this purpose only limited police powers were given to them, still they have to act under the command of the civil power.
Killing citizens without due process of law is not permitted by the constitution, even anyone violating the curfew may not be shot dead, the counsel argued in his reply adding every thing done while conducting the silence operation was in violation of the constitution and law of the land.
The counsel described the role of ulema before the launching of the operation as hopeless and deplored that the Wafaqul Madaris suspended the affiliation of Jamia Hafsa and had not restored only to punish the students. The students have, thus, been deprived of appearing in the examinations of the Wafaqul Madaris.
The counsel pleaded before the apex court to order the Wafaqul Madaris to restore the affiliation of Jamia Hafsa in the interest of the educational career of the students.
He insisted that the main cause and object of the military operation against the Lal Masjid was to send a message to the West about Musharraf’s capability and indispensability to take actions of such a magnitude against terrorists.
“The demolition of mosques was a blunder,” the counsel claimed adding allegations of abduction of a woman by the Jamia Hafsa students and raiding of Chinese massage parlour and assaulting police personnel were minor issues for which the military operation at such a large scale was not at all necessary.