ISLAMABAD, July 10: Having been part of the late-night negotiations between the authorities and Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi to avert bloodshed at the Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa compound, Pakistan’s leading social worker Maulana Abdul Sattar Edhi told Dawn after the launch of pre-dawn ‘operation Silence’ on Tuesday that he had known all along that the obstinate ‘Maulvi’ would not listen.
“I knew from the first day that ‘Maulvi’ does not listen,” said Mr Edhi remorsefully amid the roaring sound of combat operation, eight hours after all attempts to peacefully resolve the Lal Masjid crisis failed.
“This is all a consequence of (Ghazi’s) stubbornness,” is how he summed it up as he looked on helplessly and desolately.
His message for the people of Pakistan, particularly to thousands of Madaris throughout the country was: “Pursue peace, be humane and shun arms and militancy.”
With a distant look in his eyes, the 84-year-old frail Edhi, whose feet were swollen, observed: “Aagar mein bhee ziddi hota tu kamyab na hota” (If I was also stubborn I would not have succeeded).
Edhi had 60 ambulances parked in the area as he sat under a green leafy tree with the sun pouring down on the capital’s curfew-hit G-6 sector. Clad in his typical tatty militia outfit and cap, he recalled his three-minute telephonic conversation with Rasheed Ghazi at about 10.30pm on Monday, during which he pleaded for a compromise.
“I advised him against blackmail and reminded him that Islam does not allow killing of innocent people in the name of jihad,” Edhi recounted. But he said the Maulana’s response was: “Yeh Allah ki marzi hai (This is God’s will)” and then disconnected the phone. Edhi tried calling him again but gave up when there was no response even after four attempts.
Edhi believed that the government had shown flexibility and had even respected his call for a ceasefire on Monday afternoon. “The government was willing for a compromise but unfortunately Maulana Abdul Rashid was not forthcoming,” he noted.
Edhi said he knew the operation was inevitable when told by the authorities to go and rest at 11.00pm. Edhi received the next call at 3.30am and he rushed to the scene with his ambulances and staff. That was a signal that operation was about to be launched, he said.
He told Dawn that the authorities had sought the services of only six Edhi Foundation ambulances to carry six injured men to the hospital until 1.30pm.
According to him, he had arrived in the capital at his own initiative just a day after returning from New York. He, however, said his wife came here last week after she was directly approached by President Musharraf.