Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Who is a Shaheed (martyr) in Jamia Hafsa Operation

We the people of the Islamaic Repubic of Pakistan cannot decide who is a Shaheed and who is not, in the battle of Lal Masjid and the recent Operation Silence..

The government is declaring all of its own casualties (army, rangers etc) as shaheed and anyone who is killed from the Lal Masjid/Jamia Hafsa side as "killed".... And, of course they have to do it, otherwise how can they justify their actions....

But, thinking philosophically and religiously, how do we know who is really a shaheed and who is not!!! In this scenario, at least the media should not take government's side in ''judging' who is really a shaheed..... Because, according the my observation, so far the media has emerged as the strongest voice for common people's sentiments and is the only source of any credible information...... but by doing so, they act like a mouthpiece of the government, rather than an independent entity..

May be we can leave it to history to decide that who was a martyr in this battle....

Some blogs and news about the Jamia Hafsa Issue

(sorry for the haphazard arrangment)

Selected blogs:

Some News Pieces

12 July: 73 bodies recovered at end of mosque siege, (Guardian)
Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan's prime minister, declared victory in the fight for the Red Mosque yesterday as commandos gained control of the compound after a 36-hour battle.

"The operation is over," he said after the last rattle of gunfire echoed from the Islamabad mosque. Civilian casualties were lower than expected, he said, and no women or children had been killed.

12 July: Bodies found at Pakistan mosque (BBC)
Soldiers overran the mosque amid fierce gun battlesThe Pakistani army says it has found 73 bodies inside a mosque compound in Islamabad, after fierce battles between soldiers and gunmen inside. Officials said the Red Mosque, or Lal Masjid, complex had been cleared of militants but troops were combing the area for booby traps and explosives.

10 July: Seeing red in Pakistan (The Hindu)
Once the dust has settled on the violent Lal Masjid episode, many will argue that Pakistan's General Pervez Musharraf could have handled things differently. Already a 37-party political alliance, comprising among others, Nawaz Sharif's PML-N and Imran Khan's Tehreek e-Insaf, has been set up which has condemned Operation Silence in which the Pakistani army has taken on fundamentalists holed up in the mosque. More than 50 militants and at least 10 soldiers have been killed so far.....

July 4 morning
According the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP):

“The government has set the Wednesday [4th July] 1100 hours deadline for Lal Masjid student to surrender their weapons, said Secretary Information and Broadcasting Syed Anwar Mahmood.Briefing media, the Secretary Information said, the government has offered a safe passage to women and children of Jamia Hafsa and has ensured them full protection.”

From youtube:
4th July 2007 : Massive Street Battle in Pakistan's Capital
Army versus Muslim Militants (
The following video is embedded in the above blog:

March 31, 2007
Pakistan: "Moral" Muslim Women Kidnap And Tie Up Baby
(historical context of the rise of the Jamia Hafsa)

Fact Box from Reuters

(Reuters) - The head of a radical Pakistani mosque at the centre of a stand-off with security forces, Abdul Aziz, was arrested on Wednesday while trying to escape clad in a woman's burqa, officials said.

Here are some facts about the mosque, where hardline Islamist students have been confronting the government since January:

- Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, is regarded as a symbol of radical Islam in Pakistan. It was established in 1965 by Muhammad Abdullah, a cleric believed to have had close ties to dictator General Zia-ul-Haq.

- About 5,000 students study at the two madrasas (seminaries) attached to the mosque.

- The mosque is well known for its criticism of the government and anti-U.S. and pro-Taliban sentiments. Abdul Aziz took over as the chief cleric after the assassination of his father, Abdullah, in 1998.

- He issued a fatwa, or religious decree, in 2005 declaring that Pakistani soldiers killed fighting militants in the northern tribal areas could not be given Muslim funeral rites.

- After the July 2005 bombings in London, police attempted to raid the mosque and the adjoining seminary to investigate its link with one of the bombers. Security forces were prevented from entering the compound by baton-wielding women.

- The mosque has been at odds with the authorities since January when female students occupied a library next door to protest against the destruction of mosques illegally built on state land. The students also pressured owners of music and video shops to close.


March 27 - Burqa-clad female students from the mosque's Jamia Hafsa school abduct three women they accuse of running a brothel. The women are released after they "repent".

Background story of the Red Mosque from Guardian (Western and Modern Version)
The Red Mosque is at the heart of fears that "Talibanisation" is spreading in Pakistan. Its students have tried to violently impose their strict social code on the capital by abducting prostitutes, threatening CD shop owners and defying police. They are led by brothers Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Abdul Aziz, who boast of meeting Osama bin Laden. Until Tuesday Musharraf was reluctant to take them on, saying he feared violence could spread. But critics accuse him of manipulating the crisis to bolster support among Western allies. - Guardian Unlimited ©

A brief timeline of the Jamia Hafsa from Geo website

Text of HRCP Press Release on Lal Masjid incidence

Press Release

10th July, 2007

Probe into Lal Masjid bungling must

LAHORE: A high-level, independent inquiry into the Lal Masjid operation, the clumsy manner in which it was carried and the deaths of an as yet undisclosed number of persons is essential.

HRCP is appalled by the killing of so many, by the disproportionate use of brute force and the arbitrary action taken to deal with the situation.

The question of the long delay in the conduct of the Lal Masjid operation, the confusion over the game plan under which ulema and government members conducted negotiations with Lal Masjid clerics and the lack of a clear-cut strategy regarding those who voluntary surrendered must also be probed. The absence of a coordinated plan in this regard hampered the operation and added to the confusion prevailing amongst people across the country. The homage paid by government members and others over the last many years to clerics such as those running the Lal Masjid and the obsequious manner in approaching them has also quite obviously emboldened them.

The situation at the Lal Masjid did not crop up overnight. The build-up of arms and the training in their use imparted to students had obviously continued for years, with the help and connivance of authorities. It also defies belief that the authorities learnt of the presence of alleged militants within the masjid only hours before the operation. The whereabouts of these individuals should not have been unknown to the vast intelligence network based in Islamabad.

Even now other seminaries exist, where militants are trained and arsenals of arms stocked. The existence and location of these seminaries are well known to authorities Indeed, the violent events seen at the Lal Masjid are an outcome of the collusion between the military and militants backed by the clergy that has continued for decades.

The allegation that women and children were used as a human shield by militants at the Lal Masjid is appalling. Such exploitation of children by seminaries must end and an investigation made into the exemption granted to the seminary from regulating and monitoring its pupils.

The government, with its ham-handed handling of the situation, has in fact created the potential for further problems ahead. The deaths of so many at the hands of State forces may act only to pave the way for greater extremism in society and support for the violent cause militants espouse.

Asma Jahangir

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Jamia Hafsa 'Operation'

8.28 am Pak Stanadard time, Thursday the 12th of July. This is the 10th day of the Jamia Hafsa "Operation" and the Lal Masjid battle...

During these last 12 days I went through totally different set of opinions and solutions for the so called problem... Initially, when the Lal Masjid issue started in the afternoon of the 3rd of July, I thought it is just a minor skirmish between the government and the 'militant' students of the attached seminary Jamia Hafsa.. I was totally with the government and passionately advocated for eradicating militant Islam from Pakistan and was of the view that who are these people to start self policing the nation, when we have fully functional state to do that.. And, that the state has right to establish is writ, whenever and wherever someone tries to create a state within state...

However, with the passage of each minute, hour and day the situation became worse and worse and the fact and figures muddier and muddies... In the beginning, I was really angry at the government for allowing the problem to grow at this proportion that and not taking any severe action early on, like in February when the students took control of the adjacent students library and later in March their attack on a brothel racket run by "Aunty Shamim" and on 23rd (?) June the abduction of 6 Chinese women from a massage parlour which proved to be the straw that broke the back of the camel. In this context, the government deployed rangers (late June ??) in the nearby areas of the mosque and the madrassa (I saw the rangers and student militants holding their positions on 1st of July (from the Sunday Market) and after another incidence of the seminar students' snatching of guns from some policemen from a nearby area, the government launched its retaliation with tear gas... The others answered with their Kalashnikoves.... Exchange of fires continued off and on.. the whole G-6 sector was under curfew all of a sudden, giving no chance to the residents to prepare for emergency or leave the area, if possible....During the stand off of 10 days, the government lost some of its precious officers, unknown number of students died, ~1200-1400 students surrendered (many of whom were taken to adiala jail and unknown places)....

... However, 10 days down the line and a faithful reporting of the private television channels, Geo, ARY and AAJ I am angry at government only and want to really believe in the conspiracy theory that this was all a sham to divert media attention from other burning issues affecting Pakistan, like the case of Chief Justice, pre-monsoon floods devastating Balochistan and Sindh, and most importantly the All Parties Conference (APC) which was held in parallel in exactly those days on the Lal Masjid operation was on its peak.

I don't have any questions to the Officials of the Lal Masjid, and assuming they were militants, I absolve them from any responsibility of answering the nation. However, I want to question the government of Pakistan (and I am not alone in this), that how come they had no clue about the collection of such huge level of artillery and armaments in Lal masjid and Jamia hafsa complex, located in the heart of Islamabad.... How come they did not know anything about the movement of foreign militants living there and where was government when they built this sophisticated seminary for girls, on an illegal land, fitted with its own underground bunkers and underground cells which are inter-connected and further connected with the top minarets... This construction, collection of arms and training of students in warfare did not take place in days... I cannot believe that Pakistani intelligence was not aware of it!!!!

The issue started on 3rd July and continued in a stand off situation till the night of 9th of July when the government was apparently trying to break a deal with the deputy Khatib of Lal Masjid Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi (shaheed now).... and somehow a twist in the negotiations happened in the late hours and around 3.30 am the government decided to declare that the negotiations has failed and launched "Operation Silence" against Jamia Hafsa... The building stated collapsing under heavy shelling and firing of bullets... The mother of Maulana Ghazi died around 7-8 am and he himself parted with life around 11 am..

The so called operation is complete now.. Now the government is "washing" the seminary to remove all traces of atrocities and innocent lives gone... The media is still not allowed to go there as the government is fully aware that the sentimental nation of Pakistanis may revolt against the state if they 'see' all that blood and body pieces.. I think this is the saddest period in history of Pakistan, not in terms of casualties, but in terms of the treatment of our government of the ordinary people. At the moment, the media seems to be very neutral and is challenging the government on its intelligence failure and collateral damage, and government is blatantly avoiding answers or accepting the fact that they were really unaware of such level of sophistication warfare machinery in the heart of the capital.

Let's see what happens now... I am not very hopeful.. Already many of ordinary people think that "this was done" to make the USA and UK happy.... And, to prove those people right, 2 F-16 fighter planes reached Pakistan exactly the moment when the death news of Ghazi Abdur Rashid was announced on television. There are many other events which people correlate and in the absence of a credible source of information, I don't blame people believing in conspiracy theories... While there are many who are appalled at the attack of a mosque and seminary, at the same time there are others who firmly believe that government should crush such movements so that in future no one should dare to stand against the state. I think this event has created the biggest chasm in the civil society of Pakistan and may escalate into a full fledged civil war.