Muzammil Shah and the Gun Battle at Lal Masjid

Posted on July 10, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Politics, Religion, Society
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Adil Najam

The news is developing by the moment. But the bottom-line is clear. The security forces have taken control of the Lal Masjid from militants after a severe gun-battle. But the story is far from over.

It will continue to unfold. There are too many unanswered questions. They will certainly be asked and discussed threadbare; here at ATP and elsewhere. But the real story of tomorrow remains the same as the real story of yesterday. Can a society that is so deeply divided against itself learn the lessons of tolerance? This question will continue to haunt us well into the future, in multiple shapes, in multiple forms, in multiple contexts.

This is a question that we at ATP have confronted from our very beginning and will continue to confront. But now is not the time to ponder on this. Even though what has happened had become inevitable over the last many days, I am too heartbroken to be able to do so.

Right now I can think only of Muzammil Shah (photo, from Associated Press, above). This photo was taken as he waited for his son who was inside the Lal Masjid. I do not know whether his son was there voluntarily, or as hostage. But I do know what the look of Muzammil Shah’s face means. The more important question is whether his son came out alive or not. I pray that he did.

Analysts – me included – will discuss what happened at length. They will try to understand the meaning of all this. What does this mean for Pakistan politics? What does this mean for Gen. Musharraf’s future? What does this mean for Islam? For Democracy? Does the fault lie with Abdul Rashid Ghazi and his militant supporters for creating a situation that could only end this way? Why did he not surrender? Is the blood of everyone who died not on his head for his stubboness and arrogance? Or, maybe, it is the government that is to blame because it did not act earlier? Act differently? Waited just a few days more for a negotiated solution?

Right now all these questions seem really petty and small. This is not the time for scoring cheap political points. This is not the time for spin.

Moreover, there are too many questions to ask. To answer. The head hurts as you think of them. But the heart hurts even more as you look at the face of Muzammil Shah.

Maybe the only really important question is the one that you can read between his wrinkles: “Why? Oh God, why? Why must things happen this way?”

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276 responses to “Muzammil Shah and the Gun Battle at Lal Masjid”

  1. Me bhi Pakistan Hoon tu Bhi Pakistan hai says:

    Yeah, it’s very true the most important question is the one you can read between his wrinkles, this is what I waited for all my life?? Or this is what had to be the result of my beliefs, or is this the result of non conformity to the social changes of the society?? Or life long poverty which could only find its way out in this way.

    The problem is poor old man doesn’t understand that he is survived the past sixty years of his life living in a world of his own, in which heaven is the ultimate destiny of a true believer and this world is a mere pathway. But he never realized he was a citizen of a country where imperialism is deeply rooted in its every institution, whether in form feudalism or capitalism. (I am not sure if they are part of Imperialism).

    I was thinking of the proverb “Knowledge is power

  2. Govt: Shujat was helpless and called around 4AM that he got failed, thus we started operation.

    Edhi:I was already informed about operation last night[when negotation process was contrinue] because govt officials asked us to bring ambulances,body carriers.

    A clear contradiction. Media is not allowed near surroundings and hospitals(hiding casualties of both sides?). Tribals has threatened to attack in entire country, the tribals who were not even control by US and NATO. BTW, operation is being assisted by US.

    May Allah keep Pakistan stable. I must thank Mr Bush and Mush whose policies are going to make a “loser” as a “Hero”-Good going!

  3. Wasio Abbasi says:

    Mullah-Military drama was one thing that left no honest Maulana or Mullah any honor or shame with the staged arrest of Maulana Aziz in such a shameful manner. Now making a grand ending of the whole scenario with a military action in the end, it is really the worst the president would come up with.

    Claiming lives of people who are not others but our own countrymen makes one’s heart weep, knowing that there could have been another way, another hope to avoid this. This is not India, this is not the Golden Temple nor we are in the previous millenia … this is Pakistan, this is Islam, that is a mosque and we are in the 21st Century. Is this is how we are going to deal with our problems, I shudder to think how worse we can get.

  4. Viqar Minai says:

    It is said that as he was leaving the bounds of the citadel, after the Moors were finaly uprooted in Spain, Abu Abdul, the dethroned king turned to take one last look at the citadel; and broke down completely. As devastated as she must have also been herself, his mother admonished him:

    “Why do you weep like a woman over what you could not defend as a man?”.

    The sentiment is still true for a lot of us in Pakistan today.

    My tears have long since dried up. There is no ache left in the heart anymore.

    Only prayers remain …

  5. sad sad day……….. there is so much that can be said and many questions remain at large and many answers can be found as well……..

    But Dr. Adil you are right, nothing is going to answer or bring peace to these parents and relatives of the militants, the sudents, the army officials and commandos who all died!!

    However, a small question I was pondering was that who willl be clasified as a SHAHEED in this scenario? Is it the militants, the innocent students or the army and secuirty officials…….. In a way they all belived that they stood on the “RIGHT” side and with “GOD”!!????????

  6. menu/exit says:

    There should be an independent inquiry into how this operation was handled by international organizations to set the record straight. I don’t think justice will be served but at least an inquiry will not stain the history books with the false information that comes out of Pak Army’s ranks.

  7. A/C to unauthentic news,ghazi’s mother has left this world.

    @Abrar: We have made fun of the term “Shaheed”. when ZAB and MQM terrorists could be declared shaheed then anyone could be called shaheed.

  8. PM says:

    Adil
    Right now all these questions seem really petty and small. This is not the time for scoring cheap political points. This is not the time for spin.
    It is so strange that such learned and respected analysts think politics cheap. This shows how military dictatorship over the years have affected even highly educated people psychlology. That’s why in every important matter to this nation politicians are always kept away , look at the issue of Lal Masjid , CJP even Earthquake. Politics is cheap , scoring political points is cheap , politician are cheap and then naturally dictator are ok.
    I am not sure why in US Democrats and other scholars/analsyts think scoring political points on Iraq issue as cheap , and opposition in Britain/analysts/scholars think scoring political points as cheap.

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