2 readers online now  |  69 million page views

Several Lal Masjids waiting to explode !!

Reader comment on item: Red Mosque in Rebellion

Submitted by ORF (India), Aug 7, 2007 at 10:52

The military action against the group of militants led by clerics Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rasheed Ghazi holed up in the Lal Masjid in the centre of Islamabad is a milestone in Pakistan's recent history.

A variety of interpretations are being offered for the situation where a mosque and its attached madrassas -- Jamia Hafsa and Jamia Faridia -- were allowed to become the hub for hardline militants.

These militants had at their disposal an armoury of lethal weapons, and challenged the writ of the State. It's the policies pursued by Pakistan over the last two decades that should be held responsible for the bloody events in Islamabad, rather than the negligence of any single department.

The two Lal Masjid clerics had been very active during the Afghan jehad and had played a key role during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan till the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US. The Lal Masjid was one of the important facilities used by the Pakistani intelligence and security agencies for the jehad in Afghanistan and in Kashmir. The agencies had been working hand-in-glove with Lal Masjid clerics and, therefore, it is incredible that they did not know what was going on in the Lal Masjid complex.

The problem arose when the Islamabad administration wanted to demolish several mosques, including the Lal Masjid, which had been built on land illegally grabbed by the clerics. Several mosques were demolished in the course of this campaign. The Lal Masjid clerics hit back by instigating burqa-clad female students of Jamia Hafsa to seize a children's library.

The government tried to placate them by promising to rebuild the mosques which had been demolished. The more the government representatives, including former Prime Minister Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain and Minister for Religious Affairs Aijazul Haq, tried to placate the clerics, the more the burqa-clad women and boys became provocative and aggressive.

They allogated to themselves the authority of the moral police, abducted women, Policemen, rangers and even Chinese beauty parlour employees. They demanded the immediate introduction of Shariah laws. It is to be noted that most of the religious parties distanced themselves from the Lal Masjid clerics, but did not condemn them.

The threats and the bragging by the clerics about their lethal strength had acquired worldwide notoriety. This had made it unavoidable for the Pervez Musharraf regime to launch the military action against Lal Masjid. But till the last moment the government ministers were begging the clerics to compromise. But the roots of the problem can be traced back to the jehad in Afghanistan when Pakistan became the frontline state. The problem was compounded by the continued support to militancy in Kashmir by the successive establishments.

It was the height of the Cold War and the United States had the good opportunity to defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Jehad became a permissible activity. The Saudis funded the jehad, the US supplied the weapons and Pakistan and its agencies trained the jehadis for fight in the war against the Soviet army.

All kinds of militants from all over the Muslim world flocked to Pakistan to fight in this jehad. Pakistan received large amount of arms for the fight in Afghanistan and a substantial part of these found their way into the hands of Pakistani militants. Most of the religious parties and militant groups were well-armed of which they did not make any secret. By the time the Afghan jehad wound up, the Pakistani agencies were working for the Kashmir jehad.

Madrassas preached jehad and their students were encouraged to help the jehad in Afghanistan and in Kashmir. The Pakistani agencies and institutions were involved in a big way in propagating jehad and supporting their proponents fighting in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

The militant and terrorist groups had complete freedom to collect funds, set up training camps and recruit jehadis. Huge arms dumps had been set up within the civilian areas in Pakistan. One such arms dump located in Islamabad had exploded in early 1988 killing more than a thousand innocent citizens.

The Pakistani establishment supported the Taliban's Islamic regime in Afghanistan and never expressed its disapproval of the Taliban brand of Islam. The Islamic parties of Pakistan, which comprise the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), virtually ran Pakistan's Afghanistan policy and were the Taliban's .ideological mentors. The same MMA is now in power in the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP).

The NWFP government almost replicated the Taliban regime in the province; with the same kind of attacks on the rights of women, hostility to cultural activities, adherence to a particularly orthodox version of Islam and even an attempt to introduce the Hisba Bill providing for a religious police. It was foiled by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Significantly, the Talibanisation spread to the settled districts of the NWFP and then crept into Punjab, Gujranwala, Jhang and other areas.

It will be a folly to consider that militant fortress of Lal Masjid as an exception. There are several fortresses, more dangerous and lethal, bristling with weapons. In Malakand, Sufi Mohammad had declared the introduction of Shariat way back in the nineties of the last century and now his son Fazalullah is following his path. Similarly, the Pakistani Taliban has already declared Islamic Emirates in both North and the South Waziristan. Several agreements accepted by Pakistan have now been revoked by the Taliban. The agreements, in the first place, were never implemented by the militants.

The Lal Masjid encounter is the bloody culmination of all the compromises resorted to by military regimes, political parties, successive governments and the ruling elites of Pakistan.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to Several Lal Masjids waiting to explode !! by ORF

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2021 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)