Muzammil Shah and the Gun Battle at Lal Masjid

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

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

  1. Aamir Ali says:

    Liaquat Ali:

    The Lal Masjid gangsters were committing crimes while holding weapons in their hands. What law or Shariat is there in their actions?

    I am personally very happy that the SSG assaulted the compound and killed every last fanatic inside.

    Mullah Badmashi Murdabad.

  2. ALI KHALID says:

    I THINK THE LALMASJID OPERATION IS THE OPERATION AGAINST TERRORIST .ISLAM IS A RELIGION OF PEACE .BUT OUR FANATIC ULMASMAKE THIS RELIGION IS NOT A RELIGION OF PEACE THEY MAKE IT THE RELIGION OF FANATICISM .ACCORDING TO ISLAM NO INDIVIDUAL HAVE RIGHT TO ANNOUNCE NIFAS E SHIRYAT WITHOUT ANY SUPPORT .LAL MASJID OPERATION IS THE OPERATION AGAINST FANATICISM .AND GENTLEMEN I THINK IT IS GOOD .AND LASTLY I APPRECIATE OUR SSG GENTLEMEN WHO PERFORM WELL IN THIS OPERATION

  3. Waheed says:

    Liaquat Ali, what lal masjid guys did was completely against shariat. They had no right to take law into their own hands and there is consensus of ulema on that.

    And no we don

  4. Liaquat Ali says:

    To AZM,

    You called lal-majid people “fanatics who had desecrated the Lal Masjid”, have you ever know any of them, have you ever looked at what they were asking for, simply to apply law of the state which is broken by the governement itself.

    They thought Pakistani people would stand for justice, that was their mistake how wrong thye are. Pakistani people deserve heavy hand of corrupt army and other thieves who thrive in goverment. I truely say goverment in that did right thing no justice should ever be doen to a Pakistani everywhere, they deserv it.

  5. azm says:

    I hope that the fanatics who had desecrated the Lal Masjid by turning it into an adda of ghunda gardi will be tried n public. The extremissts in the mosque attacked Paksitan as well as Islam with their actions.

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