ISLAMABAD, Dec 26: A judicial commission headed by Justice Shahzado Shaikh of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) to probe the Lal Masjid operation, summoned chief cleric of the Mosque Maulana Abdul Aziz and his wife Umme Hassan, along with 25 witnesses, on December 31 and January 1, for recording of statements.

The commission constituted by the Supreme Court began its proceedings on December 19 and registered over 200 witnesses — majority being the heirs of those people who went missing in the July, 2007, Lal Masjid operation.

The commission had offered people to become witnesses in the probe and the process for the registration of witnesses continued from December 19 to 26.

Officials close to the probe told Dawn that the commission would scrutinise the witnesses list and relevant people would be summoned for recording of statements.

According to officials, the law enforcement agencies were also summoned on Thursday for making security arrangements, during the recording of statements and the witnesses would be issued special passes for a specific date, on which they would be summoned.

Hearing complaints filed by the heirs of 103 missing people in the Lal Masjid operation, the Supreme Court on December 4, constituted a one man commission to probe the incident and set a 45 days deadline to complete the task.

Hashmat Habib, one of the counsels for the heirs, told Dawn that the actual number of people who went missing in the operation was more than 1,300 but according to the official figures only 108 people had gone missing.

“It was not the mandate of the army to carry out such operations in the area, where there were a number of constitutional bodies available to defuse the situation,” the counsel said.According to the counsel, army in the Lal Masjid operation had went beyond its mandate, which resulted in collateral damage.

“The government despite the court orders did not compensate the heirs of those who went missing in the operation,” he added.

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