‘Operation Silence’ Against Lal Masjid Islamabad

Posted on July 3, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Politics, Religion
Total Views: 120359


Adil Najam

UPDATE: Reports in the Pakistan media suggest that the Lal Masjid leader has finally been arrested while trying to escape wearing a burqa. According to a BBC update:

The leader of a radical mosque besieged by Pakistani security forces in Islamabad has been caught trying to escape wearing a woman’s burqa. Security forces seized Abdul Aziz as he tried to leave the Red Mosque amid a crowd of women… He was wearing a burqa that also covered his eyes,” a security official told the AFP news agency about the cleric’s escape bid. “Our men spotted his unusual demeanour. The rest of the girls looked like girls, but he was taller and had a pot belly.

ORIGINAL POST: Things are moving fast and the showdown at Lal Masjid, Islamabad that began this morning is now ready to turn into an even more real battle. The day took the lives of at least 10 people, possibly more. These included policemen, soldiers, by-standers, a journalist, and a number of Madrassah students. (For details see our earlier post and update comments on it, here).

The latest – and this keeps changing by the minute – is that in a mid-night press conference the government has given an ultimatum to the management of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) to surrender. There is no indication that they will. In the past things have always ended with ‘negotiated settlements.’ This time the likelihood of this happening is much less. A curfew has been imposed in the area. Tanks have been called in. So have special forces.

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Metroblog Islamabad is doing a wonderful job of keeping abreast with breaking news. It reports, through Dawn TV, that 111 Brigade (Army) from Rawalpindi has already assembled around the mosque. Ambulances have been fully stocked. Hospitals are on alert. An ultimatum for time has been given (3.30 PST… NOW!). The entire area has been cordoned off.

Here is a news clip from ARYOne, broadcast earlier.

In an article written last week for The News, I had argued that inaction was not a solution and because of so many delays and policies of apeasement some confrontation was now becoming inevitable.

This episode [i.e., the Chinese massage parlor case] will further embolden the already violence-prone brigands at the two madressahs and we are likely to see an escalation in their demands as well as their tactics. Meanwhile, the government has once again demonstrated an inability and/or unwillingness to act decisively. The much-cherished ‘writ of the state’ continues to rot in tatters.

This, it seems, is what happened when earlier the Lal Masjid management incited this escalation in response to the government’s build-up of force around the mosque. In that article, I had gone on to argue that:

Just like standing still in the middle of the road at the sight of the blinding lights of a truck speeding towards it does not save the life of the stunned deer, doing nothing about this escalating crisis out of fear that doing anything will only make things worse is not going to help the government, or Pakistan. Something needs to be done, and done fast.

I had called in the article for the government to “act to judiciously dismantle militancy at Lal Masjid.” This situation has to be responded to. But the key word remains “act judiciously.” What is really important is how that action is taken. Further bloodshed should be avoided. At least minimized. One hopes that any action is intelligent action and all steps are taken to minimize loss of life. Not just because one does not wish to create needless ‘martyrs.’ Much more so because all life – and everyone’s life – is precious.

The technologies to undertake low casualty offensives are available. The will and sagacity to do so is needed. The test for the government – acting with force in the very center of the Federal Capital – is not only what it does, but how it does it.

Photo credit: Associated Press, B.K. Bangash.

359 responses to “‘Operation Silence’ Against Lal Masjid Islamabad”

  1. Pakistani says:

    We need a SILENT operation and raid these “legal” brothels being operated in our Islamic Republic. Almost every Guest House and Massage place is a brothel being supported by our administration and police. This is a growing business and is not being highlighted as a growing problem. Pakistan ka mutlab kiya

  2. it was the worst day of the history of Pakistan and the worst thing that could happen to Pakistan as well

  3. Harrinder says:

    As an Indian, I do wish to express my sorrow at all the terrible things that are happening in Pakistan. But I also want to say that you should not feel so hard on yourself. In many ways I am impressed by the discussions here and the honesty with which tough topics are discussed and the activism to make things better. We in India massacred people in Gujrat and then went and elected the killers even as they proudly said they were killers. And no one spoke up in India the way you are all speaking up. Every day there are women committing suicide and minorities being mocked and mistreated in India but we have been trained to keep in our ‘place’ with a token high office here or there. I am not saying things are better in Pakistan, they are bad in both places. But at least you in Pakistan speak up and discuss your problems. We in India just sugar coat our genocides and they become time bombs ticking away.

  4. Hira Mir says:

    @shakeel. I don’t think you can relate the muslims of today with Islam. The Islam that the religious leader are teaching to these young minds is asking them to blow up and kill civilians. I don’t think that is justified. What your take on this?

  5. Eraj Danish says:

    The militants groups hide their killings of hundreds by saying this is a war against Non-Muslims. Then their leaders release videos that this is un-Islamic Bombings. They contradict in their own groups showing the wrong path that they are on.

  6. Eraj Danish says:

    The Taliban and Al-Qaeda have lost hold of their organizations and now they using media to damage control like the video launched by Adam Gadgahn in which he completely looks so confused and stammers a few times. We should praise the Army for a magnificent operation.

  7. Shakeel says:

    To Salam:

    I see the point you are making. It is full of emotions but emotions is good sometimes :)

    I, for one, do not beleive that something needs or should be forced onto somebody else. Let me explain: if someone wants to listen to music, then we shouldnt stop him/her. At the end of the day, even during the days of our Prophet (PBUH), there were people who were living according to what He taught and many went against it. Been like this since.

    I know that I would prefer to see Pakistan not taking the same route as the Western world for example where it’s too open. I like modesty. However, if people want that in Pakistan, then let them. Islam is not about forcing any ideas.

    Also, people that ‘preach’ Religion are often the guilty party – they are uneducated, biased, make up things so you beleive their group only, will twist the Holy Books to benefit them, they will mistreat women and disrespect them, they are dirty also .. all kind of things. So the people that are meant to ‘represent’ our Faith are messed up, why worry about others?

    If you want a society that is following the Islamic teachings, then start from the Madrassahs, not from people’s homes.

    Also, what I dont understand from these so called madrassahs going good citizens: if someone says something bad abt Islam, you will be on the streets protesting (like that has ever changed anything! wake up!) but when will I see people protesting about the injustice our kids suffer? Or women for that matter? What about how dirty our cities are? I thought being clean is achieving half of our Deen .. so what’s up with that?

    I am frustrated. I am a Muslim and going for Hajj next month. I want to become a good Muslim and beleive my faith because I have studied it and convinced by it. However, these guys like in the Lal Masjid need to stop calling themsevles Muslims. It is insulting me and majority of 1.3 billions Muslims. Islam is abt peace not fighting. They have ruined our nation :(

  8. Salam says:

    I just know one thing that if Lal Masjid Administration were wrong and the way they want to implement Islamic Sharia in Pakistan was not good. Then would you please tell me that after that or before this operation, who tried for Islamic Sharia?
    Certainly nobody wants Islamic Sharia. Because?
    This is not possible for any body
    1. To live without listening songs.
    2. To live without watching TV, because photos and videos are not allowed in Islamic Sharia.
    3. To live without giving and taking bribery.
    4. To live without seeing ladies & girls in bazaar, Islam is against this to go out side in bazaar and see ladies & girls.
    5. To live without going to bazaar without veil. Maximum ladies say that this is our right to go every where without veil. Islam is saying them not to go alone and without veil out side. They are fighting with Allah.
    6. We are not giving Zakaat,
    7. We are not offering prayers 5 times a day.
    8. We are not doing justice in Pakistan and we want that Allah help us in our every problem.

    There are many things which we shouldn

  9. Ahmad says:

    The militants and the students were given days of warning to move out of Lal Masjid and surrender. There was no other option for the government then to kill the militants and clear the masjid of anti islamic elements. these militants always exlpoit Islam to get authority and money from different parties. Let us save Pakistan from people who use Islam as a pretext to pick up arms.They do not represent Islam. What if you start kidnapping people and keep hostages in your house and fire upon police in a bid to ask them to enforce Islam. You know what your fate going to be.

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