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.

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