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Lal Masjid: making terrorists heroes

WE all know what happened at Lal Masjid. But a very sinister effort is being made to distort the truth and to mislead the people. It is, therefore, necessary to remind people of the truth. People forget and the media finds it convenient to brainwash.

Many of us are eyewitness to the Lal Masjid episode. Here is an eyewitness account by Nadeem Abbas, a resident living in G-6/3 sector near the mosque. An elegant Jamia mosque, with a low iron fencing, became an armed fortress with high walls and pickets occupied by well-armed and trained militants and criminals from outside and where nobody could go for prayers.

A beautiful government-owned children`s library was illegally occupied to construct the Jamia Hafsa with basement and gun pickets.

All was done with a sinister plan. I also had the personal displeasure of meeting Abdul Aziz and his brother Abdul Rashid on several occasions who worked for my uncle in Unesco in his office.

This transformation from a simple mosque to a terrorists` hub took place in a period of two-and-a-half years with the patronage and connivance of rogueelements and sympathisers in the government, administration and the politicians.

The people and residents around were fed up with their activities, harassment, insecurity and their ways. They had been complaining for more than a year before the operation. The local ICT administration, with the police, launched four campaigns in this period to get possession of the children`s library, demolished illegal structures and the fortified wall but to no avail.

In the last one they were beaten up, gunfire was exchanged and a few government officials from the local administration were taken hostage as well.

After that neighbourhood witchhunt, beating and kidnapping of the residents in the Lal Quarter area started. The people came out on the street and media started a campaign about the government`s inefficiency and inaction.

Several attempts were made for talks by various people but all failed. It was beyond the capacity of local police and the administration. The civil administration formally requested for the help of thearmed forces.

This lasted a month before the operation was undertaken and the place surrounded and sealed. In the operation on the fourth day, almost all children from Jamia Hafsa were evacuated in which Abdul Aziz was captured trying to get away with his family in a burka. We all saw that.

No children were massacred as claimed and the final gunbattle was between the armed militants and the security forces. The place was finally cleared and the rest is history.

Later Malik Riaz rebuilt the destroyed buildings and renovated the mosque, and the people of the area took a sigh of relief.

The people once again started praying in the mosque.

Interestingly, the media, which was daring the government to take action, praising it for doing it afterwards, took a Uturn and started criticising the government.

How strange. Apart from being an eyewitness as I lived there and it was happening in front of me, I also personally knew the DC, chief commissioner and the IG police to get actual updates.

Our area was under curfew for threeweeks. The military action was more than justified and they were careful to ensure minimum loss of human life. They did a commendable job.

It is mockery of justice to charge the then president and the army chief for death of a rebel and a terrorist. Are the memories so short that people, including our judiciary, have forgotten the atmosphere of fear and terror in Islamabad created by the armed terrorists holed up in Lal Masjid.

Our soldiers and army of ficers were martyred by the terrorists in the Lal Masjid.

Who should be charged with martyring our soldiers and officers? The army should have demanded trial of Abdul Aziz for the death of army personnel.

Are the lives of our military personnel cheaper than those of the extremists who were responsible for killing of jawans and officers? Besides Pervez Musharraf`s trial, the trial of the mosque terrorists must also be held and the people of the area must be made party.