Posts Tagged ‘Lal masjid’

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Lal Masjid Operation (2007) VS Nawaz Government’s Model Town Operation (2014): A Comparison

July 2, 2014

Written by Usman Sheikh


T1According to media reports, a little over a dozen members of Tahir ul Qadri’s Minhaj ul Quran and his supporters have been killed as a result of the unusually brutal attack launched by the Lahore police upon the residence of Tahir ul Qadri (16 – 17 June 2014).  Hundreds are seriously injured and it is feared that some of them may succumb to their injuries in the coming days. Many civilians are said to be missing as well.

There is no need at the moment to compose a detailed analysis of this saga as the facts seem to be reasonably clear – and here we should, surprisingly, thank some segments of the Pakistani media for doing a good job – a rare accomplishment indeed.

Briefly, however, we know that:

  • the police simply began shooting at unarmed civilians and murdered many;
  • the excuse utilised by the police to approach Tahir ul Qadri’s residence, namely, to remove alleged “illegal” barriers, also appears to be bogus (these barriers were there for over 3 years upon the orders of the High Court, as clarified by Tahir ul Qadri);
  • the media has shown that a well known thug of PML-N – “Gullu” Butt – was leading/directing the police, charging at unarmed civilians and smashing car windows under police protection;
  • the cameras also show the police looting/damaging local shops in an effort to lay the false blame upon the followers of Tahir ul Qadri;
  • the media has reported that the Lahore police have been busy harassing the injured followers of Tahir ul Qadri, that they have attempted to falsify the medical records and have attempted to exaggerate their own minor injuries in the medical reports;
  • the media has also reported – on the basis of insider information – that the Lahore police planned a fake “attack” upon their own police stations by plain clothed police officers in order to cast the blame upon the supporters of Tahir ul Qadri;
  • last but not least, the police continue to hold many civilians in various locations, subjecting them to intense tortureState-Terrorism-I

While certain matters of detail may be unclear, there is, however, absolutely no dispute over the following fact: the police murdered unarmed civilians in cold blood and acted in a thuggish manner adopting terror tactics. It is noteworthy that members of the PML-N also do not dispute this main fact.

The below is a brief comparison of the above referred police operation with an earlier operation which took place in Islamabad in 2007, namely, the Army operation against the terrorists of the Lal Masjid/Jamia Hafsa during the Musharraf Government.

I will be arguing that State terror took place in the Model Town operation whereas the operation against the Lal Masjid/Jamia Hafsa management in 2007 was legitimate and justified.

I will:

  • Compare the actions and statements of Tahir ul Qadri’s followers with those of  the  Lal Masjid/Jamia Hafsa management;
  • Compare the effort by the State to minimise civilian casualties in 2014 and in 2007;
  • Show that virtually every (false) allegation heaped towards the Musharraf regime in regard to the 2007 Lal Masjid/Jamia Hafsa operation actually holds true when it comes to the 2014 Model Town operation by the Nawaz regime

I will be summarising points regarding the Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa management from the following source:

Suo Motu Case No. 09/2007

Title: Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa Incident: The Report Of The Commission

Author: Justice Shahzado Shaikh (Judge, Federal Shariat Court / Commission)

Table of Contents

  1. Before the Operation: Acts & Deeds of the  Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa Management & Tahir ul Qadri’s Followers
  2. The Demands
  3. The Threats
  4. Negotiations: Government’s Attempt to Achieve a Peaceful Resolution
  5. Civilian Casualties: Killing Imaginary and Real unarmed Men & Women 
  6. Missing Persons
  7. Quran Desecration
  8. Who to Blame: President, Prime Minister, Chief Minister, Law Minister etc.
  9. Conclusion

1. Before the Operation: Acts & Deeds of the Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa Management & Tahir ul Qadri’s Followers

Lal Masjid Management: 

they built mosques on illegally occupied land;

  • they occupied the Children’s Library in Islamabad;
  • they terrorised the locals, attacked shops and kidnapped people, including police officers;
  • they burnt down the Ministry of Environment building and damaged government/public property;
  • they threatened suicide bombings on multiple occasions and boasted about their links with terrorists (e.g. “Maulana Aziz had told his students that victory was near,”We have spoken to our brothers in the tribal areas and a host of other warriors, including Baitullah Mehsud, who would soon be coming to Islamabad for our support.“” (p. 29) – Regarding suicide bombings, the Lal Masjid Commission Report quotes Maulana Abdul Aziz as follows: “The suicide attackers are ready to operate anywhere inside Pakistan . . . Our students enjoy the moment when Police or Rangers operation looms, and they get bored when the situation normalizes . . . the suicide attacks were right in Pakistan in few circumstances while they were absolutely justified in the context of Afghanistan and Iraq” (pp. 40-41));
  • prior to 2007, Lal Masjid students ransacked shops, burnt Melody Cinema, and at least one person was burnt alive inside (p.​ 49)
  • The Lal Masjid clergy declared that those fighting Pakistani forces were martyrs and urged people not to give Islamic burial to the Pakistani soldiers killed in fighting (pp. 49-50);
  • Ghazi Abdul Rasheed gave a statement that Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad had become a brothel and women associated with the University were immoral and he mentioned throwing acids on their faces (p. 38);·
  • Lal Masjid Management killed an officer, which finally led to an operation. According to the Lal Masjid Commission Report: Lal Masjid inmates killed a Ranger personnel – Lance Naik Mubarik Hussain. This started a battle between the Lal Masjid inmates and the security forces (p. 44);
  • In the media campaign, the Ghazi brothers claimed that they had some 7,000 trained men and as many women ready to resist any government attempt to dislodge them, even if that meant carrying out suicide attacks (p. 52)
  • The Lal Masjid Commission Report cites Maulana Aziz declaring the imposition of a competing justice system where they (Lal Masjid Management) would enforce law and order and issue punishments: “Today we are announcing Shariah in the area which is in our control where every decision will be taken according to Shariah and injunction of Islam” (p. 34);

Minhaj ul Quran:

No acts of violence whatsoever and no threats. Followers of Tahir ul Qadri have a history of being peaceful and pro-democracy. Tahir ul Qadri is also the author of a substantial fatwa against terrorism in the name of Islam: Fatwa On Terrorism And Suicide Bombings, 2010, Minhaj-ul-Quran International (UK) – this is a 475 page volume and has been endorsed by scholars such as Prof. John L. Esposito (George Town University) and Dr Joel S. Hayward (Kings College London).

2. The Demands

Lal Masjid Management:

  • Nothing short of a Saudi styled Wahabi system in Pakistan: 06 June 2007 – Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi met the Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan and issued a statement declaring that only a system similar as Saudi Arabia would be acceptable. He also stated that he did not want a civil war in Pakistan, but was only struggling for Islam (p. 41);
  • Construction of all the Mosques which were demolished in Islamabad [note: illegally constructed mosques on land not belonging to the Lal Masjid administration] (p. 36);
  • Enforcement of Sharia in the country – the type of “Sharia” deemed “acceptable” by the Taliban, Saudi and, of course, the Lal Masjid Management;·
  • Abdul Aziz came up with fresh demands: asking for ‘nifaz-i-shariat’ across the country with immediate effect and demanding President Musharraf to announce Islamization in the country in his address to the nation (p. 31);

Their demands were so outrageously unrealistic and ridiculous and even Deobandi and Wahabi scholars were forced to condemn the Lal Masjid Management:

  • 2 May 2007 – Imam-e-Kaaba met with Ejaz ul Haq (Minister for Religious Affairs) and said that Islam did not allow anyone to raise illegal construction over any state or private property even for the purpose of construction of Mosques. (p. 37);·
  • Imam-e-Kaaba also said that in the presence of a government, no individual can establish his own Shariat Court (p. 37);·
  • Imam-e-Kaaba also said that it was unfortunate that the Lal Masjid administration had not acted upon the advice of Mufti Taqi Usmani (p. 37);
  • Qari Hanif Jalandhari stated that the occupation of the children’s library by the students of Jamia Hafsa / Lal Masjid was an uncalled for act, which had no sanction in the Shariah (p. 30);
  • On 07 April 2007, the President of Wafaq ul Maddarass, Maulana Saleem Ullah Khan, said in his public statement that the Lal Masjid administration through its actions has provided an excuse for the operation (p. 32);·
  • The Wafaqul Madarras also ended the affiliation of Jamia [Hafsa] (p. 34);·
  • Allama Taqi Usmani, Qari Saeed ur Rehman and others had expressed concern about the situation. Wafaqul Madaris had suspended the registration of Jamia Faridia and Jamia Hafsa. No notable ulema agreed with Ghazi brothers. Religious parties did not agree with their approach and there was no political support for their call. Ulema declared occupation of Children’s Library as un-Islamic (p. 91);Lal Masjid terrorists

It should also be noted that the Lal Masjid Management also refused to accept the compromise/agreement reached between the Government and the Deobandi body called Wafaq ul Madaris (The compromise between the Government and the Wafaq ul Madarrass was rejected by the management of Lal Masjid (p. 30)).

Minhaj ul Quran:

Imposition of a genuine grassroots democratic system in the country, where there is a truly free and independent Election Commission, with a complete adherence to the Constitution of Pakistan (in particular, Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, to ensure competent/honest individuals contest elections). They talk about the implementation of genuine justice, promotions based on merit alone, and call for the protection of minority rights in Pakistan.

3. The Threats

Lal Masjid Management:

As seen above, the Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa Management issued threats of conducting suicide bombings on multiple occasions. The following threats and acts of terror are summarised from the Lal Masjid Commission Report:

  • Maulana Abdul Qayyum, spokesman of Lal Masjid Administration, said that suicide bombers of Lal Masjid had been granted permission to find targets and strike wherever they chose to (p. 44);
  • Maulana Abdul Qayyum said, “In fact, that has already been done. It was previously decided that if we come under attack, then we will give this permission to the suicide bombers to strike. So, they have been given permission to strike anywhere at any time.” (pp. 44 – 45);
  • Taking advantage of the restraint shown by the security forces, the Lal Masjid fighters stormed the official buildings, government school, and also damaged public property (p. 44);
  • Lal Masjid fighters set fire to the M/O Environment building in front of Jamia Hafsa where the security forces were positioned (p. 44);
  • Vehicles of high officials of the ministry were burnt (p. 45);
  • Khateeb publicly threatened suicide bombing (p. 52);
  • In the media campaign, the Ghazi brothers claimed that they had some 7,000 trained men and as many women ready to resist any government attempt to dislodge them, even if that meant carrying out suicide attacks (p. 52);
  • Suicide attacks took place after the Lal Masjid operation – Intelligence reports pointed towards links with suicide bombers and Taliban (p. 52);
  • 26 June 2007 – Islamabad police prevented an incident where they checked the movement of a group of armed Taliban riding in two vehicles which came out from the Lal Masjid at around 01:00 p.m. and were heading towards the covered market (pp. 42-43);
  • 16 June 2007 – Maulana Abdul Aziz issued a death decree against the staff of a magazine for publishing a fashion shoot advertisement titled “Adam and Eve.” (p. 41);
  • Students of Jamia Faridia E-7 Islamabad abducted three police officers. They were released after a warning from the Ministry of Interior (p. 40);
  • 30 May 2007 – Maulana Abdul Aziz claimed that Lal masjid Administration had more than 10,000 suicide bombers in the Mosque premises and more than 1,00,000 in Pakistan (p. 40);
  • Lal Masjid Commission Report quotes Maulana Abdul Aziz as follows: “The suicide attackers are ready to operate anywhere inside Pakistan . . . Our students enjoy the moment when Police or Rangers operation looms, and they get bored when the situation normalizes . . . the suicide attacks were right in Pakistan in few circumstances while they were absolutely justified in the context of Afghanistan and Iraq” (pp. 40-41);
  • Ghazi Abdul Rasheed gave a statement that Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad had become a brothel and women associated with the University were immoral and he mentioned throwing acids on their faces (p. 38);
  • “Maulana Aziz had told his students that victory was near, “We have spoken to our brothers in the tribal areas and a host of other warriors, including Baitullah Mehsud, who would soon be coming to Islamabad for our support.”” (p. 29);

Minhaj ul Quran:

None. They have a record of being peaceful and not engaging in any acts of violence. The Minhaj is a scholarly organisation set up by a trained, qualified and a highly respected scholar from the normative Islamic tradition.

4. Negotiations: Government’s Attempt to Achieve a Peaceful Resolution

Lal Masjid Management:

The Government of Shaukat Aziz in 2007 engaged in intense negotiations with the terrorist Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa Management for almost 6 months. The Shaukat Aziz Government also reached out to Deobandi and Wahabi scholars / organisations to achieve a peaceful resolution. The Shaukat Aziz Government continued to avoid the operation even though there was no doubt that the Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa Management consisted of terrorists, had engaged in acts of terror and were making ridiculously impossible demands – ridiculous enough to even annoy Deobandi and Wahabi scholars.

Lal Masjid - Suicide Bombers

The following is summarised from the Lal Masjid Commission Report:

  • Government Agreed to Rebuild the Illegally Constructed Mosques: 19 June 2007 – Ejaz ul Haq said the CDA had issued notification to construct some Mosques and asked the Lal Masjid management to cease occupation of the Children Library (p. 41);  He said Masjid Amir Hamza would be built on its original place (p 41); He said masjid Ibn-e-Abbas would be built on a separate plot by the CDA, who would bear the entire construction cost (p. 41); He said a plot had been selected for Masjid Al-Saffa (p. 41); He said the construction of Masjid Hamza F-10/3 would start in F-10/3 on a plot measuring 90X70 (P. 41);
  • Compromise Rejected by Lal masjid / Jamia Hafsa Management: On 03 February 2007, a meeting was held between the Ministry of Interior – represented by Aftab Ahmad Sherpao – and the Wafaq ul Madarras to resolve the issue of Lal Masjid. In this meeting, it was decided that the Amir Hamza Mosque would be reconstructed on its original place and that a committee comprising ICT administration and Ulema would be constituted to decide the matter pertaining to other Mosques. This decision was relayed in a joint press conference. In this press conference, Qari Hanif Jalandhari stated that the occupation of the children’s library by the students of Jamia Hafsa / Lal Masjid was an uncalled for act, which had no sanction in the Shariah (p. 30). This compromise between the Government and the Wafaq ul Madarrass was rejected by the management of Lal Masjid (p. 30);
  • On 09 February 2007, in order to avoid bloodshed, the government temporarily postponed the operation once 500 students equipped with batons came out of the Mosque and raised slogans against the administration (p. 31);
  • On 11 February 2007, a delegation of ulema held talks with the Ghazi brothers in the Lal Masjid. But the deadlock persisted (p. 31);
  • The delegation of Ulema met with Ijaz ul Haq. In this meeting it was decided that the religious scholars would give another chance to talks with Lal Masjid management. The Government, on the other hand, decided to start the construction of the Amir Hamza Mosque (p. 31);
  • Ijaz ul Haq explained to newsmen that the talks between Lal Masjid management and the ulema failed because Abdul Aziz came up with fresh demands: asking for ‘nifaz-i-shariat’ across the country with immediate effect and demanding President Musharraf to announce Islamization in the country in his address to the nation (p. 31);
  • In a meeting between Aftab Sherpao, Ijaz ul Haq and Wafaq ul Madarrass, a committee was constituted with a mandate to deliberate on the issues relating to the illegal construction of mosques and encroachment by mosques and madrassas in Islamabad, and make recommendations to the concerned authorities to decide these issues (p. 32);
  • The telephone and water connections in the Jamia Hafsa were also restored (p. 32);
  • Ghazi Abdul Rasheed, while lauding the role of Wafaq ul Madarrass, stated that the students of Jamia Hafsa would continue to hold the Library until the reconstruction of all the six mosques demolished during last two and a half years (p. 32);
  • Musharraf’s Reluctance to Carry Out Operation: 29 June 2007 – Addressing the media, Musharraf said [as cited by Lal Masjid Commission Report]: “I am not a coward person . . . but the issue is tomorrow you will say what have you done. There are women and children inside” (p. 43);
  • On 09 April 2007, the top leadership of the country decided to give negotiations another chance. Musharraf approved the policy of “dialogue before reaching the dead end” and that meeting was attended by the Prime Minister, Aftab Sherpao and Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain (pp. 34-35);
  • A meeting was held, convened by Prime Minister Shoukat Aziz. It was attended by Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain, Aftab Sherpao, Zafar Iqbal Warraich, Commander (R) Khalil ur Rehman, Principal Secretary to PM, Chairman CDA, Chief Commissioner, Islamabad and Inspector General of Police Islamabad. It was decided that Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain would continue his efforts for a settlement with the Lal Masjid Management (pp. 37 – 37);

Minhaj ul Quran:

Whereas the Government in 2007 took extreme steps to continue negotiations with known terrorists and went on and on trying to resolve the issue peacefully over a period of 6 months, nothing even remotely similar took place in Model Town in 2014. Within a few hours, a little over a dozen unarmed civilians – supporters of Tahir ul Qadri – were killed by the police.

The Government in 2014, within a matter of a few hours, utilised extreme State terror to terrorise and scare innocent unarmed civilians. No attempt was made to reach
out to members of the Minhaj-ul-Quran and their allies. This despite the fact that the Minhaj has always been a peaceful organisation engaged in nothing more than scholarship.

5. Civilian Casualties: Killing Imaginary and Real unarmed Men & Women

Lal Masjid Management:

One woman was killed in the cross fire – the elderly mother of the terrorist Ghazi brothers. She was being kept in the basement of the Lal Masjid complex where the final battle took place. She was not killed deliberately; she was killed in the cross fire unintentionally.

Besides this one civilian casualty, hardcore armed terrorists of the Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa were killed by the security forces.

In total, there were 103 casualties – 11 security personnel and the remainder being armed terrorists.

Contrary to popular claims, there is no evidence to suggest that children, girls were killed in this operation.

Minhaj ul Quran:

Innocent and unarmed civilians were gunned down in cold blood – civilians who are not known to have engaged in any act of violence in their lives.

This includes at least two women, one of whom was pregnant, and the rest unarmed and innocent men.

6. Missing Persons

Lal Masjid Management:

Contrary to popular claims, we know of no “missing” persons from Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa. No family has ever come forward demanding the return of an alleged “missing” relative.

Minhaj ul Quran:

According to the members of Minhaj ul Quran, a number of civilians are still in the custody of the police and they have been very vocal regarding this. They have also vocally asserted that bodies of slain members were also taken by the police and have yet to be returned.

7. Quran Desecration

Lal Masjid Management:

There is no evidence that copies of the Quran were deliberately desecrated by the Army personnel taking part in the Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa operation. The fire produced by the fighting damaged the buildings and the material therein. If any copy of the Quran or a religious text was damaged, it was damaged inadvertently during the course of the operation and intense fighting.

After the operation:

  • Removal and dumping of debris was done by CDA under the supervision of ICT Administration. Copies/pages of the Quran and other religious books were shifted to a safe place (p. 90);
  • According to former Commissioner ICT, Khalid Parvez: i. a fatwa was obtained from Mufti Muhammad Saqib and Mufti Maulana Abdul Razzaq to dispose some pages of the Quran and other extracts (p. 90);
  • ii. Both opined that the best method of disposal of such material is to wrap it up in a clean cloth and bury it in a grave – in the same manner as is the mode prescribed for the human grave (p. 90);
  • iii. Team headed by Deputy Director (Auqaf) was constituted to carry out burial of such papers (p. 90);
  • iv. This was done in the presence of four members of the Ulema Committee (p. 90);
  • v. The remaining intact religious books and Qurans were shifted to G-6 flats under the supervision of Deputy Director (Auqaf) and kept in the racks/almarahs (p. 90);

Minhaj ul Quran:

Quranic copies have been damaged and destroyed. No doubt, the police – presumably Muslims – are unlikely to have deliberately damaged/destroyed Quranic copies. However, given the fact that the police were terrorising, murdering civilians and engaging in chaotic destruction in the surrounding locality, their insensible, unprofessional and criminal behaviour resulted in the damaging/destruction of Quranic copies.

8. Who to Blame: President, Prime Minister, Chief Minister, Law Minister etc.

Lal Masjid Management:

The President of the time, Pervez Musharraf, has been isolated and personally held “responsible” for the Lal Masjid operation and the resultant loss of life. He has been accused of “murdering” the junior Ghazi brother and his mother. It is as if Pervez Musharraf was micro managing the entire operation, personally instructing the police and commandos on the ground and then personally pressing the trigger to kill Ghazi junior and his mother in the basement.

The above is a rather silly scenario and It is absurd to blame the Head of State in this instance. The Head of State does not operate at the administrative level on the ground. As President, Mr. Musharraf had simply no involvement in the operational details of this anti-terror operation. By blaming Mr. Musharraf, layers upon layers of the government are being bypassed.  There is the Local Administration, the Chief Secretaries, the Chief Ministers, the Secretary Interior, the Federal Interior Minister, and then the Prime Minister. These are the Government Civil Functionaries. Only after all of these layers do we come to the Chief of Army Staff and then to the President of the country. Mr. Musharraf was never issuing any administrative, operational level orders and neither was he issuing instructions on the ground.

Most importantly, there was no innocent civilian loss of life (save one instance). In addition to this, the conduct of the officer(s) on the ground is to be investigated when there are instances of civilian casualties in such an operation.

Moreover, the operation began only after the Lal Masjid terrorists killed a personnel of the Ranger – Lance Naik Mubarik Hussain. This started a battle between the Lal Masjid inmates and the security forces (p. 44)

Minhaj ul Quran:

In this instance, the police committed murders in cold blood and severely beat up civilians. Only in the face of sheer police brutality did some supporters of Tahir ul Qadri subsequently  defended themselves armed with just sticks and stones.

It is unrealistic to suppose that the police decided to simply act on their own and use live ammunition so casually. The police never open fire upon civilians unless and until they receive instructions from officials – this would include the Chief Minister of the province, in this case Shahbaz Sharif. The Law Minister and friend of Deobandi terrorists, Rana Sanaullah, was made reluctantly fired as the calls for Shabaz Sharif to step down increased.

Those who are familiar with Shahbaz Sharif know that he directly controls the Punjab police and is personally engaged with them. All senior and mid-level police officers are personally selected by Shahbaz Sharif. Moreover, members of PML-N are recruited in the police to ensure that they blindly follow the commands of Shahbaz Sharif and take direct instructions from him.

It is improbable to suppose that the police, on their own, just decided to knock on the door of an important personality in Pakistan who has thousands and thousands of followers. It is even more improbable that for many hours Shahbaz Sharif did not know about the operation – while it was being shown live on all channels – and that he came to learn about it only upon its natural conclusion.

As if this was not enough, a well known thug of PML-N, “Gullu” Butt, was shown on all channels directly leading the police and committing destruction under the close protection of the police.

In short, Shahbaz Sharif’s own police committed multiple murders and this police force was being led by his loyal servant “Gullu” Butt and senior officers known to him.

Here it is perfectly justifiable, commonsensical and reasonably to blame the Chief Minister – Shahbaz Sharif – for this carnage and act of terror. It is reasonable to demand Shahbaz Sharif’s resignation and to then charge him with murder.

9. Conclusion

The false allegations launched by terrorists and terrorist sympathisers with regards to the Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa Operation hold true only when it comes to the 2014 Model Town Operation by Shahbaz Sharif’s Punjab police force.

State Terrorism has only transpired in the 2014 Model Town Operation whereas the writ of the State was established in 2007 when the Government, after intense negotiations and desperate peace efforts, decided to rightfully confront armed terrorists of Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa.

A few PML-N dimwits talk about the killings which took place in the streets of Karachi on 12 May 2007. Here they are making a false analogy. Different political parties (ANP, PPP and MQM) confronted each other and engaged in tit for tat killings. The State was not involved in this saga. The killings were not caused as a result of any “State operation” or by any “instructions” issued by the Head of State. In sharp contrast, the Punjab Government used its loyal police force to kill unarmed and innocent civilians in Model Town in 2014, making full use of their well known thug, “Gullu” Butt. Hence the comparison is bogus and does not work.

Those who cry and whine daily about the mythical killings of the “thousands” of non-existent civilians in the Lal Masjid Operation have really no tears to shed or a word of sympathy to offer when it comes to the actual civilians murdered by Shahbaz Sharif’s Punjab police force.

Recall that the Nawaz regime was engaged in State terrorism in the 90s as well and it seems clear that they are at it again.

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Fabricated Case of Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa – EXCLUSIVE

October 14, 2013

By Usman Sheikh

In another absurd move, the former President of Pakistan has been arrested again on the basis of the allegation that he “killed” the mother of the terrorist Ghazi brothers (along with the younger Ghazi brother). It is as if the former President rolled up his sleeves, pressed the trigger or ordered the soldiers on the ground to ensure only one of the Ghazi brothers was killed, along with his mother, whilst all the unarmed students, women and kids were successfully rescued.

Below is a very brief and quick summary of the main points:

Q. Thousands of innocent women and children were killed during the Lal Masjid operation and chemical weapons were used

A. 

1. Lie.

* Only one non-combatant was killed: the elderly mother of the terrorist Ghazi brothers. She was killed in the cross fire in the basement of the Lal Masjid

* We know of no other unarmed civilian who was killed in this operation

* Altogether, 103 people were killed in the Lal Masjid operation, of which 11 were security officials

Lal Masjid Commission Report

[Note: The Lal Masjid Commission Report gives a lie to the assertion that “thousands” or “hundreds” of “women and children” were killed in the operation. It also highlights the fact that a) the Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa management were preaching and involved in terrorist activities; b) were actively supporting terrorists; c) initiated hostilities d) had a long history of involvement in dodgy activities; e) were not merely demanding the reconstruction of 7 illegally built masajid, but were also demanding the imposition of their weird version of the sharia upon the whole of Pakistan (including demanding the imposition of the Saudi system in Pakistan)]

2. Islamic law does not permit any Tom, Dick, or Harry to take the law into his/her own hands. Neither does it permit any individual to wage (offensive) jihad and to oppose the State, particularly when doing so would cause bloodshed and mayhem.

3. Pakistani authorities negotiated with the terrorists of the Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa for many months, trying their best to reach a peaceful resolution. They even agreed to reconstruct the illegally built masajid. Yet the management of Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa refused to accept a peaceful settlement and even dismissed the requests of the Wafaqul Madaris

4. These terrorists had threatened to launch suicide attacks, had encouraged members to throw acid upon the female students in the Quaid-e-Azam University, illegally occupied buildings (including a library), burnt the Ministry of Environment building and stored weapons and explosives in the masjid. They destroyed shops, kidnapped and tortured people and kidnapped police officers on multiple occasions. The Ghazi brothers openly threatened suicide bombings and boasted about their close contacts with the TTP and individuals such as Baitullah Mehsud. Ignoring the statements of the

Imam of Kaaba, Taqiuddin Usmani and dismissing the efforts of the Wafaqul Madaris and many others, they began making completely unreasonable and unrealistic demands, including the imposition of the Saudi system in Pakistan. But still the Pakistan authorities continued negotiating with them.

5. Forces on the ground decided to act once the students of the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa killed a Ranger and conducted other destructive activities.

6. As explained by the Lal Masjid Commission Report, no heavy machinery was used by the Pakistani forces. The Commission compared this operation with the operation conducted to liberate the Kaaba in 1979. In the latter, heavy machinery and tanks were used, resulting in hundreds of casualties. In the former, in sharp contrast, all the women, girls and unarmed civilians were rescued by the Pakistani forces and, thereafter, a careful and cautious operation was conducted to eliminate the armed terrorists.

Lal Masjid terrorists

White Phosphorous Grenade allegation

A. No chemical weapon was used in the lal masjid operation

B. The army uses a grenade called SMOKE DISCHARGE/GRENADE WP P3 MK1, locally produced in POF and is used for smoke screening purposes in battles. It is an ordinary grenade and not a chemical weapon.

C. White phosphorus grenades were used to create smoke to enable the soldiers move inside the premises.

D. No lethal application of White phosphorous was made in the operation.

Lal Masjid - Suicide BombersClick here for some forgotten facts about the Lal masjid. (Must Watch)

Click here to read the exclusive article written by President Musharraf, “Lal Masjid- Shifting Truth from Lies” and “Behind the walls of the Laal Masjid” by Naeem Tahir.

“Lal Masjid has 10,000 suicide bombers” – A blunt confession by Molana Abdul Aziz.

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LAL MASJID – SHIFTING TRUTH FROM LIES

August 26, 2011

(By Pervez Musharraf – former President of Pakistan)

The Lal Masjid operation is a case study of how an appropriately timed, meticulously planned and boldly executed operation launched in the supreme national interest can be distorted by vested interests who want to present it as a disaster. I would like to elaborate/clarify various issues which have been distorted. “Hundreds of innocent people were killed which included scores of women and children.” This is an absolute lie. Firstly none of those killed were innocent. They were terrorists (including five foreigners) who took the law in their own hands and killed a number of policemen, kidnapped and physically tortured Chinese citizens (causing embarrassment to the government) and burnt down Ministry of Environment offices, property and vehicles.

They had stored arms and explosives in the mosque and were equipped/prepared for suicide bombings. Secondly the numbers killed were NINETY FOUR and not a single woman or child was killed. This can be ascertained by digging their graves and counting. “The operation was launched overriding efforts to end the occupation peacefully.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. The siege of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa was started about six months before the operation. There were about two thousand five hundred girls in Jamia Hafsa and an equal number of men who had taken over Lal Masjid. Despite all the pressure on the government in the media to act and evict the occupants who were challenging the writ of the government and causing immense embarrassment, the decision taken was to negotiate a peaceful settlement to avoid casualties. In the months that followed, representatives from Wafaqul Madaris and the Council of Islamic Ideology were sent to negotiate, Maulana Edhis’ wife was sent to pacify the girls and even Imam Kaaba was gracious enough to contribute towards an amicable end to the confrontation.

Besides this, a number of politicians and notables also tried their best to resolve the issue. All this was to no avail. The primary concern before launching the operation was how to avoid casualties. The operation was launched only after all efforts towards a negotiated settlement failed and maximum occupants including all women and children were drawn out. The individuals left were all hardened terrorists including five foreigners who refused to surrender and decided to fight it out.

We as Pakistanis must realise that we cannot be known internationally as a “Soft State” or a “Banana Republic” where there is no writ of the government. The government has to be strong enough to meet any challenge to its authority. Then only can we emerge as a stable, strong, respectable country in the comity of nations. We also have to make sure that religion is not misused to challenge the state and spread extremism in the society. Lal Masjid operation stands as a tribute to the gallantry of all the soldiers, especially of SSG, rangers and policemen who participated in the operation. May all the Shaheeds rest in peace, Ameen.

[Click here to watch the media confession of Umm-e-Hassan – Principal Jamia Hafsa in regards to the presence of suicide bombers.]

Source: APML online

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No regrets over Lal Masjid: Musharraf

October 17, 2010

DALLASFormer president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has said that those who were killed in Islamabad’s Lal Masjid were terrorists and insisted that no woman was killed during that operation, adding that out of 150 only 94 terrorists, including two foreign nationals, were killed in the July 2007 encounter.

The former president was addressing a public meeting of All Pakistan Muslim League in Dallas on Saturday. The former general dwelt at length on Pakistan’s political situation and the issues of Dr Qadeer and Taliban.

Musharraf clarified that he had never apologised for the Lal Masjid episode. According to him, Lal Masjid was a “den of terrorists” and as a head of state it was his duty to restore the writ of the state. He said that the government tried its best to settle the Masjid issue peacefully. “We also invited the Imam of Ka’aba for mediation, but all in vain. Since, we never wanted to turn Pakistan into a Taliban state, we took action”.

“I have apologised on the issue of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which I had to accept on the advice of my political advisers.”

The former president said that when he was in uniform, people called him a dictator. Pointing at himself, he said that “dictatorship lies in the brain, and it is a mindset and uniform has got nothing to do with it”.

Referring to Dr Qadeer’s confession, the former dictator termed the nuclear scientist “a liar”, adding that Dr Qadeer “sold” nuclear secrets to three countries and he (Musharraf) had valid proof.

Denying that his government had harassed the nuclear scientist, he said that whatever Dr Qadeer had said on television he had done so voluntarily and he was not forced to do so, said Musharraf.

“I saved Dr Qadeer because he is a national hero, and I also consider him national hero,” he said, adding: “It is also a fact that he (Qadeer) made mistakes.”

The public meeting was also addressed by Coordinator of APML’s Dallas coordinator Javed Siddiqui. As many as 500 people attended the public meeting.

Earlier, General Musharraf was received by party leaders Ameer Sukhano, Dr Hassan, Dr Tasnim Agha, Naeem, Nadeem Akhter Azeem Siddiqui Tanvir Malik, Dr Arjumand, Khalil Qureshi Muhammad Ali Siddiqui, Nadem Chaudhry and others.

Source: Express Tribune

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Pakistan needs Musharraf-EXCLUSIVE

September 15, 2009

Written by Mr. Ahmad Subhani

The then little known Pervez Musharraf, the Army Chief, emerged on the political horizon of Pakistan on October 12, 1999, by default, as circumstances forced him to take over the reins of the government The state of affairs prevalent at that time was extremely worrisome. Almost all state institutions had stood ruined. Economy, in particular, was in tatters—-Pakistan was on the verge of being declared a ‘ failed state’.

Since the year 1988, four notables of the country, who have held the reins of power are: Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari. Having gone through their tenures, a bird’s eye view account of their performance is given as under:–

Benazir and Zardari with Daphne BarakPPP leader, Benazir Bhutto, held the office of the prime minister twice—1988 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996. On both occasions, she was dismissed from office by the then Presidents on charges of corruption, mismanagement and incompetence. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan also alleged, that Benazir had a close friendship with Rajev Gandhi; had links with RAW and she had betrayed the Sikh cause by providing names of important Sikh leaders to the Indian Govt. As per press reports, in accordance with her negotiated power sharing deal with President Pervez Musharraf, she was granted amnesty and by virtue of NRO, all charges against her, including amassing of mammoth ill-gotten riches, were withdrawn. Unfortunately, she was assassinated soon after her return to Pakistan in December, 2007. The oft-repeated claim of PPP, including Benazir Bhutto, that they had promoted democracy in the country, is a complete hoax; she never conducted in-party elections—-nomination was the norm; she accepted life-Chairmanship of the party without any hesitation and in her “will”, she nominated her husband to be her successor, as if it was a dynastic rule. Democracy was thus confined merely to holding of general elections.

Nawaz SharifNawaz Sharif also held the post of the Prime Minister twice—-from 1990 to 1993 and from 1997 to 1999. In 1993, he was dismissed by the President on charges of corruption, nepotism and incompetence. In 1999, he was ousted by the then Army Chief Pervez Musharraf, when he tried to get rid of him by not allowing his plane to land anywhere in Pakistan Before that, Nawaz  got rid of former Army Chief, General Jahangir Kramat and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He has often claimed of having promoted democracy, independent judiciary and freedom of press in the country. His” love” for “freedom of judiciary, reminds us of the attack by his cronies and goons on the Supreme Court in1997-98, where his   case of misconduct  was being heard .He repeatedly  acted against the spirit of democracy  by  enacting oppressive laws like,  “Ehtisab Accountability Law” and “Anti terrorism Act”. He curbed press freedom by promulgating “Registration of Printing Press and Publication Ordinance 1977” Foreign Currency Accounts were frozen which  drastically undermined the domestic and foreigners’ confidence and led to withdrawal of 13 billion dollars from the FACS, in no time. All economic, social and security parameters had been relegated to their worst ever position.

Taking into consideration the period from 1988 to 1999, it is note-worthy that the “democratic” governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif held five elections during this period, but none of the governments could complete its term, mainly due the intolerance and undemocratic attitude of its leaders… Both the top leaders never accepted the results of the elections. Not only that, both of them accused each other of being “security risk” for the country. Under these trying circumstances, Pervez Musharraf assumed power on October 12, 1999 and as stated earlier, Pakistan was on the brink of disaster then. He accepted the challenge and with great effort and skilful handling, placed its derailed economy back on the track.

A leader is judged by what he delivers. Let us have an idea, what Pervez Musharraf has delivered in his 8-year stint in office. Pakistan economy grew by 100% to become $ 160 billion. Per Capita income grew by 100% to become $ 925. Foreign Reserves grew by 500 % to become $ 17 billion. Exports grew by 100% to become $ 18.5 billion. Direct Foreign Investment grew by 500% to become 8 billion. Poverty decreased by 10 % to become 24%.In 2006, Pakistan was the third fastest growing economy in the World and a preferred destination for investors. During his tenure, record number of projects were started and completed. Higher Education Sector budget that was mere Rs. 200 million in 1999, shot up to Rs.20 billion in 2007. During his tenure, Pakistan got out of IMF’s hold and its remarkable progress was acknowledged also by the World Bank, IMF and Asian Development Bank. Few adverse factors too came into play near to the end of his reign, due mainly to worldwide food inflation and constant rise in international oil prices. Lapses on the part of Administration also partly contributed to this fiasco since it failed to control hoarding and smuggling of food items. In aggregate, Musharraf has done much more for Pakistan than anyone else had done ever.

General Pervez Musharraf-Saviour of PakistanAs regards his personal qualities, those who know him from close quarters would affirm that as a person, he is honest, straightforward, tolerant and humble. As a ruler, he has exhibited sterling qualities such as, statesmanship, courage, patriotism and incorruptibility. This explains why he has accomplished so much in so little a time. In common parlance, he is called a dictator, yet viewed in the light of his ways of working and behaving, he is far more democratic than most of his so-called democratic adversaries. In fact, it is his democratic policies that have made him unpopular. For instance, he granted un-fettered freedom to the media but media used its new-found freedom in making Musharraf its foremost target. He is he is the only dictator, who has fulfilled the promises he made; shedding of uniform, lifting of emergency, holding of free and fair elections and unconditionally accepting results of the elections. At present, he is the only living Pakistani leader known the World-over and is held in high esteem. He speaks in unequivocal terms with conviction.

Certain allegations have been levelled against him by his opponents. Of these, Kargel War episode, Dr. Qadeer Khan’s case and participation in War on Terrorism have been dealt with, at length, by Pervez Musharraf in his speeches and memoirs (In the Line of Fire). In Lal Masjid’s case, action taken by the Govt. was unavoidable as no Govt. worth its name, could tolerate repeated violations of its writ by miscreants, who persistently indulged in unlawful and immoral activities. In Chief Justice I. M. Chaudhry’s case, reference against him was filed by Musharraf with the Supreme Judicial Council on charge of misconduct involving illegitimate favours extended to his son. The Supreme Court issued a short order dismissing the reference, but the detailed judgment is still awaited! The said case against the C.J., was mishandled and was fully exploited by the politicized lawyers who resorted to street agitation etc. The lawyers’ movement was high jacked by the Opposition, led by Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League. Nawab Akber Bughti’s murder was a simple case blown out of all proportion. He was killed in a military action when Govt. repelled his sponsored terrorist activity launched by his followers who were destroying national assets like, Sui gas installations, railway tracks, bridges etc. Promulgation of PCO and NRO in November, 2007, has also been objected to. As admitted by Pervez Musharraf himself, the PCO issued was unconstitutional, and was rescinded. As for NRO, this was a conciliatory gesture initiated by the President, which, in fact, enabled the present ruling parties’ heavy weights to return from their self imposed exile from abroad and participate in the ensuing elections, which they readily did.

Pervez Musharraf resigned on August 18, 2008 and the PPP Co- Chairman, Asif Ali Zardari took over.The newly elected PPP Govt. has been in place for the last more than an year and a half. Its performance, under the custodianship of Zardari, can best be described as unmitigated disaster. All economic indicators that had been made positive during Mushrraf’s regime have turned negative. The economy has deteriorated so fast and to such an extent, that Pakistan has been declared as one of the failed states of the World. Sky rocketing inflation, ever mounting unemployment, rapidly deteriorating law and order situation , never ending energy crisis—lately joined by flour and sugar crisis, have all rendered the life of the common man miserable. The change of Govt. has proved catastrophic for the nation. This abysmal down slide is the cumulative effect of rampant corruption, all pervading nepotism, gross incompetence and worst governance. It appears that the attention and energies of the ruling class are exclusively focused on grabbing more and more power and pelf through all conceivable means. In this mad race, they have sidelined the masses, who are now being fed on false promises. For a common man, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The “begging bowl”, that was broken during Musharraf’s reign, has been resurrected and the Govt.’s emissaries are roaming all over the World seeking aid from every Tom, Dick and Harry. What a reversal of fortunes indeed! President Zardari is himself leading the charade nonchalantly and unabashedly. Moreover, he has miserably failed to live up to the expectations of the nation in all spheres of national activity.

Pervez Musharraf has on many an occasion, opened up his mind saying, that Pakistan is his first priority. If it is so, won’t he take care of his forlorn baby? Everybody realizes that the gigantic task ahead for resurrecting the country’s  devastated economy and rehabilitating its crippled institutions, is a far more difficult and exacting job now than was the case in 1999, yet a devoted and determined statesman like him, I am sure, has the acumen and capability to meet the challenges coming ahead, undauntedly. He is the only ray of hope for this forsaken nation. I trust, he will respond to this clarion call, at the earliest possible. Wish him God speed.

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IN FAIRNESS TO PERVEZ MUSHARRAF

September 1, 2009

By Mr. Ahmad  Subhani

President Pervez MusharrafVisit any TV channel or go through the print media, the hot topic under discussion is Pervez Musharraf’s trial for breaching the Constitution. Most vocal in this campaign is Mian Nawaz Sharif and his coterie. The pertinent question that comes to mind is, that it was not the first time that it has happened, quite a few dignitaries before him had also done the same. Why then he is singled out for retribution?  Various platitudes have been put forward to justify this demand; yet the crux of the matter is that it is a simple case of personal vendetta mounted by Nawaz Sharif’s bruised ego against Pervez Musharraf who ousted him from power on October 12, 1999 when the plane bringing Musharraf from Sri Lanka was not allowed to land anywhere in Pakistan and plane’s crash was imminent since it had run short of fuel. However the tragedy was averted at the last moment by army’s intervention. This led to Musharraf taking over the reins of the Govt. They call it “coup”; in reality, it was a case of self-preservation or retaliation on the part of the wronged party (Musharraf). Had he not taken that step, Musharraf would have been eliminated from the scene, altogether.

Apart from above, certain other charges have also been levelled against Musharraf. Of these, Kargal war, Dr. Qadeer Khan’s case and participation in War on Terrorism have been dealt quite adequately by Musharraf in his speeches and statements and also in his memoirs (”In the Line of Fire”). I therefore need not touch said topics here. My considered view on the remaining important charges follows. Before proceeding further, I would like to affirm that those persons who know  him  from close quarters, would testify, that Musharraf is a truthful and straight forward man, therefore, there is no reason to doubt the veracity of events as described by him in his speeches/statements and memoirs.

In Lal Masjid’s case, action taken by the Govt. was unavoidable. Inmates of that Masjid, had repeatedly violated the law of the land through a series of illegal and immoral activities, thereby challenging the writ of the State. They were repeatedly warned to mend their ways, but to no avail. Besides creating serious law and order situation, their hooliganism was earning bad name for the country and it’s Govt., nationally and inter-nationally. Protracted negotiations carried out with the clerics of Lal Masjid proved futile owing to rigid and non- conciliatory attitude of the die- hard   mullahs. Govt. had to take action as a last resort as no other option was left.

In chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s case, a reference was filed by the President with the Supreme Judicial Council involving C.J.’s misconduct concerning illegitimate favours doled out to his son. The reference was in order legally but the case was not properly handled. The lapse provided the politicized lawyers an opportunity to resort to strike and indulge in street agitation and boycott the courts. The reference in question was turned down by a bench of the Supreme Court, but they failed to deliver a detailed judgement in support of their ruling in the case. This queer and uncharitable attitude of the Court is incomprehensible. The lawyers’ movement was soon high jacked by the Opposition, spearheaded by Muslim League (Nawaz).The event led to politicization of the legal community including the superior judiciary.

Other important allegations leveled against Pervez Musharraf are: promulgation of PCO and NRO in November, 2007. Issuance of PCO was un-constitutional and was admitted so by the President himself and was, later on rescinded. In respect of NRO, according to press reports, it was issued as a result of understanding reached between President Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto; but latter’s sudden assassination, torpedoed the whole scheme. The funny thing about said NRO is, that those who had criticized Musharraf before February,18 elections, for not allowing the self-exiled leaders to return and participate in elections, are now criticizing him for letting these failed politicians back (because of said NRO) , after seeing their disappointing performance from February, 18 onwards.

After having dwelt on the negative aspects related to the subject under review, let us now turn to its positive side;

When Pervez Musharraf took over in 1999, the economy of the country was in real bad shape, so much so, that the previous Govt. had gone to the extent of begging money from the masses under, ”Mulk Sawaro, Qarz Utaro” Scheme. However, there is no trace available, where all those donations disappeared. Foreign exchange reserves with the Govt., were hardly enough to pay for six weeks’ imports and the country was on the verge of being declared a failed state. Musharraf took up the challenge and managed the economy so deftly and speedily that within few years, Pakistan accumulated $ 16.7 billion reserves; exports exceeded $ 17 billion; home remittances by expatriates surged to 6 billion and there was no longer any dependence on international donors. In short, within a span of 7 years, Musharraf transformed the sagging economy of Pakistan into one of the most robust emerging economies of the region. It is agreed on all hands, that his foremost contribution to Pakistan is his economic reforms that brought remarkable stability to the country. Under his stewardship, record number of projects were started and completed. The I.T. and Communication Revolution, goes to his credit. Being a visionary, he brought about a revolution in the higher education sector where budget that was reeling at Rs. 200 million in 1999, touched a record ceiling of Rs. 20 billion in 2007. It is worth mentioning that during his tenure, Pakistan got rid of the I.M.F. and its rating improved considerably as also acknowledged by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. No doubt, certain imbalances also crept in at the far end of his tenure, due mainly to world-wide food inflation and constant rise in international oil prices and partly due to lapse on the part of our administration in controlling hoarding and smuggling of food items.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal, Chairman, C.M.C, in an interview (courtesy, Pakistan Observer, dated-23-9-2009), said, that he had interviewed Pervez Musharraf on his resuming office of the Chief Executive of Pakistan. He says that on the eve of his conducting the interview, he was told by the then Information Minister, Javed Jabbar, that there would be no advance briefing or questions. He was given free hand to ask whatever he wanted to, on any subject or issue. This was an amazing stance which made Jawaid Iqbal respect Musharraf immensely. He stated that those who know Musharraf personally, respect him for his statesmanship, conviction, nationalism and above all, his selflessness towards Pakistan. Jawaid further says that Musharraf has a charismatic personality, and courage to say “no” even at some of the most crucial junctures.

While Musharraf may be called a “dictator”, it is his democratic policies that have made the maximum contribution to his un–popularity. For instance, he gave the media its long awaited freedom. The media while using its unbridled freedom, found an easy target in a tolerant and democratic minded military ruler. The sold-out media that he opened up to show his dedication to the cause of democracy, chose him to be its favourite target. He is patriot to the core and is not corrupt like most politicians and previous rulers. He is a visionary leader and World acknowledges this fact. World’s top universities and fora invite him to deliver lectures at their venues. He has created a sense of patriotism in the country and his slogan “Pakistan First” is a clear manifestation of that. He is a tolerant person and believes in freedom of speech as duly exhibited by him during his tenure. His sterling qualities are; his humility and frankness. He has tackled national problems admirably.

At present, he is the only living Pakistani leader known the World over and is held in high esteem. He speaks in unequivocal terms and has the courage of conviction. He is the only “dictator” to have fulfilled his promises he made:–shedding of uniform, lifting of emergency, holding of free and fair elections and unconditional acceptance of election results. Unlike the past elections, no body has complained about “rigged” or” engineered” elections. He is also credited with setting up the freest media in Pakistan’s history. Lastly, he got himself elected under the same democratic rules that he gave his adversaries to come up through.

As elaborated above, Pervez Musharraf has done so much for Pakistan, as no body before him had done, rather he left each of them far behind. The irony is, how the nation has rewarded its benefactor. At a time, when Pakistan has reached a critical stage, in as much as, it has been declared one of the failed states of the World due to un-precedented melt down in its economy and dismal performance in other sectors, look at Nawaz Sharif, who is bent upon avenging his defeat at Musharraf’s hands unmindful of the fact that he himself was solely responsible for the dastardly act that he enacted on October 12, 1999. To-day, it seems that the entire political system is hostage to one man’s revenge. For the ruling junta, particularly Nawaz Sharif, there has been left no other problem to tackle except to persecute Pervez Musharraf. Prudence demands from all of us that we put aside our personal differences and acrimonies and unite, to face and overcome the grave challenges that the nation is facing, internally and externally. That seems to be the only way out of the present all encompassing crises, which is getting worse with each passing day.

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EXCLUSIVE-The Plan To Topple Pakistan Military

February 23, 2009

On Nov. 19, 2007, this column predicted either Pervez Musharraf or Benazir Bhutto would be assassinated [she was killed five weeks later] and warned in clear words: “This is not about Musharraf anymore. This is about clipping the wings of a strong Pakistani military, denying space for China in Pakistan, squashing the ISI, stirring ethnic unrest, and neutralizing Pakistan’s nuclear program. The first shot in this plan was fired in Pakistan’s Balochistan province in 2004. The last bullet will be toppling Musharraf, sidelining the military and installing a pliant government in Islamabad. Musharraf shares the blame for letting things come this far. But he is also trying to punch holes in Washington’s game plan. He needs to be supported.” Less than a year later, it is stunning how we never saw the signs. Patriot Pakistanis are worried about their homeland. I have no faith in Islamabad. Is anyone listening in Rawalpindi? [Ahmed Quraishi, Aug. 31, 2008.]

By AHMED QURAISHI

Monday, 19 November 2007.

WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—On the evening of Tuesday, 26 September, 2006, Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf walked into the studio of Comedy Central’s ‘Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart, the first sitting president anywhere to dare do this political satire show.

Stewart offered his guest some tea and cookies and played the perfect host by asking, “Is it good?” before springing a surprise: “Where’s Osama bin Laden?”

“I don’t know,” Musharraf replied, as the audience enjoyed the rare sight of a strong leader apparently cornered. “You know where he is?” Musharraf snapped back, “You lead on, we’ll follow you.”

What Gen. Musharraf didn’t know then is that he really was being cornered. Some of the smiles that greeted him in Washington and back home gave no hint of the betrayal that awaited him.

As he completed the remaining part of his U.S. visit, his allies in Washington and elsewhere, as all evidence suggests now, were plotting his downfall. They had decided to take a page from the book of successful ‘color revolutions’ where western governments covertly used money, private media, student unions, NGOs and international pressure to stage coups, basically overthrowing individuals not fitting well with Washington’s agenda.

This recipe proved its success in former Yugoslavia, and more recently in Georgia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

In Pakistan, the target is a Pakistani president who refuses to play ball with the United States on Afghanistan, China, and Dr. A.Q. Khan.

To get rid of him, an impressive operation is underway:

A carefully crafted media blitzkrieg launched early this year assailing the Pakistani president from all sides, questioning his power, his role in Washington’s war on terror and predicting his downfall.
Money pumped into the country to pay for organized dissent.
Willing activists assigned to mobilize and organize accessible social groups.
A campaign waged on Internet where tens of mailing lists and ‘news agencies’ have sprung up from nowhere, all demonizing Musharraf and the Pakistani military.
European- and American-funded Pakistani NGOs taking a temporary leave from their real jobs to work as a makeshift anti-government mobilization machine.
U.S. government agencies directly funding some private Pakistani television networks; the channels go into an open anti-government mode, cashing in on some manufactured and other real public grievances regarding inflation and corruption.
Some of Musharraf’s shady and corrupt political allies feed this campaign, hoping to stay in power under a weakened president.
All this groundwork completed and chips in place when the judicial crisis breaks out in March 2007. Even Pakistani politicians surprised at a well-greased and well-organized lawyers campaign, complete with flyers, rented cars and buses, excellent event-management and media outreach.
Currently, students are being recruited and organized into a street movement. The work is ongoing and urban Pakistani students are being cultivated, especially using popular Internet Web sites and ‘online hangouts’. The people behind this effort are mostly unknown and faceless, limiting themselves to organizing sporadic, small student gatherings in Lahore and Islamabad, complete with banners, placards and little babies with arm bands for maximum media effect. No major student association has announced yet that it is behind these student protests, which is a very interesting fact glossed over by most journalists covering this story. Only a few students from affluent schools have responded so far and it’s not because the Pakistani government’s countermeasures are effective. They’re not. The reason is that social activism attracts people from affluent backgrounds, closely reflecting a uniquely Pakistani phenomenon where local NGOs are mostly founded and run by rich, westernized Pakistanis.

All of this may appear to be spur-of-the-moment and Musharraf-specific. But it all really began almost three years ago, when, out of the blue and recycling old political arguments, Mr. Akbar Bugti launched an armed rebellion against the Pakistani state, surprising security analysts by using rockets and other military equipment that shouldn’t normally be available to a smalltime village thug. Since then, Islamabad sits on a pile of evidence that links Mr. Bugti’s campaign to money and ammunition and logistical support from Afghanistan, directly aided by the Indians and the Karzai administration, with the Americans turning a blind eye.

For reasons not clear to our analysts yet, Islamabad has kept quiet on Washington’s involvement with anti-Pakistan elements in Afghanistan. But Pakistan did send an indirect public message to the Americans recently.

“We have indications of Indian involvement with anti-state elements in Pakistan,” declared the spokesman of the Pakistan Foreign Office in a regular briefing in October. The statement was terse and direct and the spokesman, Ms. Tasnim Aslam, quickly moved on to other issues.

This is how a Pakistani official explained Ms. Aslam’s statement: “What she was really saying is this: We know what the Indians are doing. They’ve sold the Americans on the idea that [the Indians] are an authority on Pakistan and can be helpful in Afghanistan. The Americans have bought the idea and are in on the plan, giving the Indians a free hand in Afghanistan. What the Americans don’t know is that we, too, know the Indians very well. Better still, we know Afghanistan very well. You can’t beat us at our own game.”

Mr. Bugti’s armed rebellion coincided with the Gwadar project entering its final stages. No coincidence here. Mr. Bugti’s real job was to scare the Chinese away and scuttle Chinese President Hu Jintao’s planned visit to Gwadar a few months later to formally launch the port city.

Gwadar is the pinnacle of Sino-Pakistani strategic cooperation. It’s a modern port city that is supposed to link Central Asia, western China, and Pakistan with markets in Mideast and Africa. It’s supposed to have roads stretching all the way to China. It’s no coincidence either that China has also earmarked millions of dollars to renovate the Karakoram Highway linking northern Pakistan to western China.

Some reports in the American media, however, have accused Pakistan and China of building a naval base in the guise of a commercial seaport directly overlooking international oil shipping lanes. The Indians and some other regional actors are also not comfortable with this project because they see it as commercial competition.

What Mr. Bugti’s regional and international supporters never expected is Pakistan moving firmly and strongly to nip his rebellion in the bud. Even Mr. Bugti himself probably never expected the Pakistani state to react in the way it did to his betrayal of the homeland. He was killed in a military operation where scores of his mercenaries surrendered to Pakistan army soldiers.

U.S. intelligence and their Indian advisors could not cultivate an immediate replacement for Mr. Bugti. So they moved to Plan B. They supported Abdullah Mehsud, a Pakistani Taliban fighter held for five years in Guantanamo Bay, and then handed over back to the Afghan government, only to return to his homeland, Pakistan, to kidnap two Chinese engineers working in Balochistan, one of whom was eventually killed during a rescue operation by the Pakistani government.

Islamabad could not tolerate this shadowy figure that was creating a following among ordinary Pakistanis masquerading as a Taliban while in reality toeing a vague agenda. He was rightly eliminated earlier this year by Pakistani security forces while secretly returning from Afghanistan after meeting his handlers there. Again, no surprises here.

SMELLING A RAT

This is where Pakistani political and military officials finally started smelling a rat. All of this was an indication of a bigger problem. There were growing indications that, ever since Islamabad joined Washington’s regional plans, Pakistan was gradually turning into a ‘besieged-nation’, heavily targeted by the American media while being subjected to strategic sabotage and espionage from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, under America’s watch, has turned into a vast staging ground for sophisticated psychological and military operations to destabilize neighboring Pakistan.

During the past three years, the heat has gradually been turned up against Pakistan and its military along Pakistan’s western regions:

A shadowy group called the BLA, a Cold War relic, rose from the dead to restart a separatist war in southwestern Pakistan.
Bugti’s death was a blow to neo-BLA, but the shadowy group’s backers didn’t repent. His grandson, Brahmdagh Bugti, is currently enjoying a safe shelter in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where he continues to operate and remote-control his assets in Pakistan.
Saboteurs trained in Afghanistan have been inserted into Pakistan to aggravate extremist passions here, especially after the Red Mosque operation.
Chinese citizens continue to be targeted by individuals pretending to be Islamists, when no known Islamic group has claimed responsibility.
A succession of ‘religious rebels’ with suspicious foreign links have suddenly emerged in Pakistan over the past months claiming to be ‘Pakistani Taliban’. Some of the names include Abdul Rashid Ghazi, Baitullah Mehsud, and now the Maulana of Swat. Some of them have used and are using encrypted communication equipment far superior to what Pakistani military owns.
Money and weapons have been fed into the religious movements and al Qaeda remnants in the tribal areas.

Exploiting the situation, assets within the Pakistani media started promoting the idea that the Pakistani military was killing its own people. The rest of the unsuspecting media quickly picked up this message. Some botched American and Pakistani military operations against Al Qaeda that caused civilian deaths accidentally fed this media campaign.

This was the perfect timing for the launch of Military, Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy, a book authored by Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa Agha, a columnist for a Pakistani English-language paper and a correspondent for ‘Jane’s Defence Weekly’, a private intelligence service founded by experts close to the British intelligence.

TARGET: PAK MILITARY

The book was launched in Pakistan in early 2007 by Oxford Press. And, contrary to most reports, it is openly available in Islamabad’s biggest bookshops. The book portrays the Pakistani military as an institution that is eating up whatever little resources Pakistan has.

Pakistani military’s successful financial management, creating alternate financial sources to spend on a vast military machine and build a conventional and nuclear near-match with a neighboring adversary five times larger – an impressive record for any nation by any standard – was distorted in the book and reduced to a mere attempt by the military to control the nation’s economy in the same way it was controlling its politics.

The timing was interesting. After all, it was hard to defend a military in the eyes of its own proud people when the chief of the military is ruling the country, the army is fighting insurgents and extremists who claim to be defending Islam, grumpy politicians are out of business, and the military’s side businesses, meant to feed the nation’s military machine, are doing well compared to the shabby state of the nation’s civilian departments.

Dr. Siddiqa and her book are not important. Worse things have been said about Pakistanis before. All of these details are insignificant if detached from the real issue at hand. And the issue is the demonization of the Pakistani military as an integral part of the media siege around Pakistan, with the American media leading the way in this campaign.

Some of the juicy details of this siege around Pakistan include:

The attempt by several American and British writers – and one Pakistani, Dr. Siddiqa – to pitch junior officers against senior officers in Pakistan Armed Forces by alleging discrimination in the distribution of benefits. Apart from being malicious and unfounded, her argument was carefully designed to generate frustration and demoralize Pakistani soldiers.
The American media insisting on handing Dr. A. Q. Khan to the United States so that a final conviction against the Pakistani military can be secured.
Mrs. Benazir Bhutto demanding after returning to Pakistan that the ISI be restructured; and in a press conference during her house arrest in Lahore in November she went as far as asking Pakistan army officers to revolt against the army chief, a damning attempt at destroying a professional army from within.

Some of this appears to be eerily similar to the campaign waged against the Pakistani military in 1999, when, in July that year, an unsigned full page advertisement appeared in major American newspapers with the following headline: “A Modern Rogue Army With Its Finger On The Nuclear Button.”

Until this day, it is not clear who exactly paid for such an expensive newspaper full-page advertisement. But one thing is clear: the agenda behind that advertisement is back in action.

Strangely, just a few days before Mrs. Bhutto’s statements about restructuring ISI and the need for army officers to stage a mutiny against their leadership, the American conservative magazine The Weekly Standard interviewed an American security expert with similar ideas:

“A large number of ISI agents who are responsible for helping the Taliban and al Qaeda should be thrown in jail or killed. What I think we should do in Pakistan is a parallel version of what Iran has run against us in Iraq: giving money [and] empowering actors. Some of this will involve working with some shady characters, but the alternative—sending U.S. forces into Pakistan for a sustained bombing campaign—is worse.” Steve Schippert, Weekly Standard, Nov. 2007.

In addition to these media attacks, which security experts call ‘psychological operations’, the American media and politicians have intensified over the past year their campaign to prepare the international public opinion to accept a western intervention in Pakistan along the lines of Iraq and Afghanistan:

Newsweek came up with an entire cover story with a single storyline: Pakistan is a more dangerous place than Iraq.
Senior American politicians, Republican and Democrat, have argued that Pakistan is more dangerous than Iran and merits similar treatment. On 20 October, Joe Biden told ABC News that Washington needs to put soldiers on ground in Pakistan and invite the international community to join in. “We should be in there,” he said. “We should be supplying tens of millions of dollars to build new schools to compete with the madrassas. We should be in there building democratic institutions. We should be in there, and get the rest of the world in there, giving some structure to the emergence of, hopefully, the reemergence of a democratic process.”
The International Crisis Group (ICG) has recommended gradual sanctions for Pakistan similar to those imposed on Iran, e.g. slapping travel bans on Pakistani military officers and seizing Pakistani military assets abroad.
The process of painting Pakistan’s nuclear assets as pure evil lying around waiting for some do-gooder to come in and ‘secure’ them has reached unprecedented levels, with the U.S. media again depicting Pakistan as a nation incapable of protecting its nuclear installations. On 22 October, Jane Harman from the U.S. House Intelligence panel gave the following statement: “I think the U.S. would be wise – and I trust we are doing this – to have contingency plans [to seize Pakistan’s nuclear assets], especially because should [Musharraf] fall, there are nuclear weapons there.”
The American media has now begun discussing the possibility of Pakistan breaking up and the possibility of new states of ‘Balochistan’ and ‘Pashtunistan’ being carved out of it. Interestingly, one of the first acts of the shady Maulana of Swat after capturing a few towns was to take down the Pakistani flag from the top of state buildings and replacing them with his own party flag.
The ‘chatter’ about President Musharraf’s eminent fall has also increased dramatically in the mainly American media, which has been very generous in marketing theories about how Musharraf might “disappear” or be “removed” from the scene. According to some Pakistani analysts, this could be an attempt to prepare the public opinion for a possible assassination of the Pakistani president.
Another worrying thing is how American officials are publicly signaling to the Pakistanis that Mrs. Benazir Bhutto has their backing as the next leader of the country. Such signals from Washington are not only a kiss of death for any public leader in Pakistan, but the Americans also know that their actions are inviting potential assassins to target Mrs. Bhutto. If she is killed in this way, there won’t be enough time to find the real culprit, but what’s certain is that unprecedented international pressure will be placed on Islamabad while everyone will use their local assets to create maximum internal chaos in the country. A dress rehearsal of this scenario has already taken place in October when no less than the U.N. Security Council itself intervened to ask the international community to “assist” in the investigations into the assassination attempt on Mrs. Bhutto on 18 October. This generous move was sponsored by the U.S. and, interestingly, had no input from Pakistan which did not ask for help in investigations in the first place.

Some Pakistani security analysts privately say that American ‘chatter’ about Musharraf or Bhutto getting killed is a serious matter that can’t be easily dismissed. Getting Bhutto killed can generate the kind of pressure that could result in permanently putting the Pakistani military on a back foot, giving Washington enough room to push for installing a new pliant leadership in Islamabad fully backed by the West.

Having Musharraf killed isn’t a bad option either. The unknown Islamists can always be blamed and the military will not be able to put another soldier at the top, and circumstances will be created to ensure that either Mrs. Bhutto or someone like her is eased into power.

The Americans are very serious this time. They cannot let Pakistan get out of their hands. They have been kicked out of Uzbekistan last year, where they were maintaining bases. They are in trouble in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran continues to be a mess for them and Russia and China are not making it any easier. Pakistan must be ‘secured’ at all costs.

This is why most Pakistanis have never seen American diplomats in Pakistan active like this before. And it’s not just the current U.S. ambassador, who has added one more address to her other most-frequently-visited address in Karachi, Mrs. Bhutto’s house. The new address is the office of GEO, one of two news channels shut down by Islamabad for not signing the mandatory code-of-conduct. Thirty-eight other channels are operating and no one has censored the newspapers. But never mind this. The Americans have developed a ‘thing’ for GEO. No solace of course for ARY, the other banned channel.

Now there’s also one Bryan Hunt, the U.S. consul general in Lahore, who wears the national Pakistani dress, the long shirt and baggy trousers, and is moving around these days issuing tough warnings to Islamabad and to the Pakistani government and to President Musharraf to end emergency rule, resign as army chief and give Mrs. Bhutto access to power.

PAKISTAN’S OPTIONS

So what should Pakistan do in the face of such a structured campaign to bring Pakistan down on its knees and forcibly install a pro-Washington administration in Islamabad?

There is increasing talk in Islamabad these days about Pakistan’s new tough stand in the face of this malicious campaign.

As a starter, Islamabad blew the wind out of the visit of Mr. John Negroponte, the no. 2 man in the U.S. State Department, who came to Pakistan last week “to deliver a tough message” to the Pakistani president. Musharraf, to his credit, told him he won’t end emergency rule until all objectives are achieved.

These objectives include:

Cleaning up our northern and western parts of the country of all foreign operatives and their domestic pawns.
Ensuring that Washington’s plan for regime-change doesn’t succeed.
Purging the Pakistani media from all those elements that were willing or indirect accomplices in the plan to destabilize the country.

Musharraf has also told Washington publicly that “Pakistan is more important than democracy or the constitution.” This is a bold position. This kind of boldness would have served Musharraf a lot had it come a little earlier. And even now, his media management team is unable to make the most of it.

Washington will not stand by watching as its plan for regime change in Islamabad goes down the drain. In case the Americans insist on interfering in Pakistani affairs, Islamabad, according to my sources, is looking at some tough measures:

Cut off oil supplies to U.S. military in Afghanistan. Pakistani officials are already enraged at how Afghanistan has turned into a staging ground for sabotage in Pakistan. If Islamabad continues to see Washington acting as a bully, Pakistani officials are seriously considering an announcement where Pakistan, for the first time since October 2001, will deny the United States use of Pakistani soil and air space to transport fuel to Afghanistan.
Review Pakistan’s role in the war on terror. Islamabad needs to fight terrorists on its border with Afghanistan. But our methods need to be different to Washington’s when it comes to our domestic extremists. This is where Islamabad parts ways with and Washington.
Talk with the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan has no quarrel with Afghanistan’s Taliban. They are Kabul’s internal problem. But if reaching out to Afghan Taliban’s Mullah Omar can have a positive impact on rebellious Pakistani Taliban, then this step should be taken. The South Koreans can talk to the Taliban. Karzai has also called for talks with them. It is time that Islamabad does the same.

The Americans have been telling everyone in the world that they have paid Pakistan $10 billion dollars over the past five years. They might think this gives them the right to decide Pakistan’s destiny. What they don’t tell the world is how Pakistan’s help secured for them their biggest footprint ever in energy-rich Central Asia.

The author heads Project Pakistan, an independent research effort based in Islamabad.

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