ISLAMABAD: Giving a clean chit to the military leadership, the Lal Masjid commission report holds former president General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz and his political allies, responsible for the 2007 operation on the mosque in which 103 people were killed.
The commission, consisting of Justice Shehzada Sheikh of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC), recommended that those responsible for the operation should have murder cases registered against them and suggested that the former rulers of the country should be forced to pay compensations to the aggrieved families.
The 304 page report, that was submitted to the Supreme Court by the commission on March 22, 2013, pointed out that after six years it was not easy to condone the lack of accountability that public position holders responsible for execution of this tragic incident have faced. Such an attitude is evidence of their irresponsibility, apathy in attitude and callousness in dealing with this human tragedy, declared the report.
“It was quite clear from the number, level and nature of state actors, that they could have only moved, maneuvered and acted on all-inclusive direction and potent command. It evidently surfaces from the record also. This also shows that the coalition partners in power, particularly the prime minister and the cabinet were not absolutely in the dark”, it added.
The report contended that history could not easily digest the notion that then president, prime minister, cabinet particularly interior minister and other concerned ministers of Parliament and political parties, were not aware of the operation, adding that hypothetically even if it was so, the political leadership at the helm of affairs cannot be absolved of the responsibility for the incident, particularly when it carries criminal liability.
In evasive statements, according to reports, public office holders admitted negligence or failure to take cognizance of the human tragedy by not responding to the situation through their own judgments and decisions and not implementing the writ of the government. If the decisions were being taken by the president alone, then were they being questioned or just being blindly endorsed by all, the authors of the report wondered.
It added that the prime minister and cabinet members "share responsibility which clearly carries liability with criminality."
The commission held that Mr Shaukat Aziz was in the loop along with the cabinet members and coalition partners as his compliant team.
Commenting over the military operation, the report maintained that the Islamabad administration fulfilled legal requirements for requisitioning the military to deal with the militants. It said that the under article 245 of the constitution of Pakistan the federal government may call the armed forces to defend foreign aggression or to act in aid of civil power.
As a member of the armed forces, every soldier takes the oath to uphold the constitution and serve Pakistan as required by and under the law, said the report, adding that the armed forces were called upon by the federal government in accordance with article 245 of the constitution.
The commission also gave some short term and long term recommendations to fix the wrongs that were committed during the Lal Masjid incident.
For the short term, the commission recommended that the aggrieved families may be given compensation in accordance with the Islamic laws. And that any person who was injured or disabled in the incident may also be paid compensation and given coverage for complete medical treatment.
It further recommended that the plot on which Jamia Hafsa was built may be allotted to this seminary, adding that Capital Development Authority (CDA) may construct a building for Jamia Hafsa, as per directions of the Supreme Court, at its previous location.
In the long term, the report recommended that the syllabus of the seminaries “may be broadened to include modern sciences, merit based competitive examination system may be introduced within the ‘madaris’, integrated into national system, open to attest, certification and equivalence under the independent national institutions.”
It recommended that town planning at all urban and rural levels should make sufficient provision for amenity plots for mosques and modern madrassah schools to cater to the needs of a quickly expanding population.
The commission also suggested that “CDA and ministry of religious affairs should develop standard plans, syllabi, system of inspection, examination and equivalence as a system" in madrassahs, and try to "integrate [them] with the main stream educational system and social economic sectors where graduates of these institutions may be absorbed.”