Lal Masjid Reopens

July 10, 2007 was the day when security forces stormed the Lal Masjid in Islamabad after a week-long tense siege. According to the official figures, more than 100 people including security personnel were killed and scores injured in the operation. A full-scale assault was launched following armed clashes between security forces and students of the Lal Mosque.

Before this attack on Lal Masjid by the security forces, tension was building up in the capital of Pakistan for months due to many events caused by the administration of Lal Masjid. Baton-wielding students started attacking video shops, taking policemen hostage and abducting prostitutes and other women allegedly involved in immoral activities. The whole was and is still beyond the comprehension. Some don’t believe the story at all, and according to them it was just yet another ploy of government to divert attention from the then chief justice of Pakistan issue.

The events which led to the grand-scale bloody assault on Lal Masjid are also very much unclear. A offered was made to Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi to surrender, and according to government officials he refused and that is why they started the attack, whereas many say that Maulana was ready to lay off the arms. Nation was also very angry when Maulana Abdul Aziz was humiliated in Burqa by an arrogant PTV anchorperson in front of the camera. The warning to Lal Masjid administration also came from the highest level with General Musharraf telling inmates to “surrender, or you will be killed.”

The number of people killed in the operation however gives the lie to the official claim that the strategy was to contain the causalities by creating escape routes for women and children held hostage. Those in authority in the meanwhile failed to explain how the seminary administration managed to stockpile deadly weapons in the complex. This also raises questions about the state of our internal security.

Now Supreme Court has ordered the reopening of the Lal Masjid while directing the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to rebuild Jamia Hafsa destroyed in a military operation. Court also ordered the police to register cases against those who desecrated the Holy Quran as well as against those who destroyed the evidence from the complex. It also directed the government to pay “diyyat” to the affected families. Rather than keeping the mosque closed down, the government should focus on making its intelligence more vigilant.


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