Muzammil Shah and the Gun Battle at Lal Masjid

Posted on July 10, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Politics, Religion, Society
Total Views: 77159

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:


    before advising others, learn to accept facts as well. Lal Masjid had become a mafia center and its members were criminals who refused to change their ways. They got what they deserved.

    15 months on, nobody in Pakistan cares about the LM fools. Including the ones who screamed the loudest when the operation was being conducted.

  2. saad says:

    Wow wow wow. Our army got victorious by killing a thousand children and abducting many others. Now that is real courage to kill one of your own country men. I have seen on media and gained some insight from my fellow Muslims and Pakistanis that this LAL masjid was home to a lot of homeless and orphan children so it was a great thing to destroy such a holy thing. Holy not only in religion but also according to humanity.

    The state governed orphanages are not safe for women as there have been incidence of sex and gender abuse such as abduction and rape in these so called government safe areas for the minor gender. But when the society gives the solution with lal masjid and its secure premises for women, the bloody dictator hits them with chemical weapons. Ah may Allah give us some guidance and help the nation addicted with sex give some guidance and their leader be judged with .

  3. This happens when you give leadership value to the mullah. This poor guy must have given his son to the madrassa trusting the ghazi brothers to be learned men of wisdom. He didn’t know any better.

  4. The mushrarf do very wrong and i hope AlLah give in punishment of this work Inshallah

  5. sohail sheikh says:

    i only dont understand the stand on the whole matter of emergency and the removal of the justices and the ban on media by the MQMand the only thing MR ALTAF HUSSAIN SAID IS THE LATHI CHARGE ON MEDIA IS CONDEMNED being a true supporter of democracy and the champion of the poor class cant he call a nation wide strike on these matters .

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