‘Intelligence agencies had a role in Lal Masjid operation’
ISLAMABAD, Feb 19: Testifying before the Lal Masjid Commission on Tuesday, a witness presented new information about the perceived role of intelligence agencies in the events leading up to the 2007 operation.
He suggested that the government had not given due support to those working to avoid a military confrontation.
Nadeem Ahmad is the chairman of Khubaib Foundation, a Turkish-funded relief organisation that took part in rescue and relief operations during and after the Lal Masjid operation.
He told the court that before the military operation, he had tried to convince Ghazi Abdul Rasheed – the brother of Maulana Abdul Aziz, the Khateeb of Lal Masjid – to avoid a confrontation with the government, and Ghazi Rasheed told him that an intelligence agency had given its support to the mosque administration.
According to Mr Ahmad’s testimony, Ghazi Rasheed felt that, with the support of an intelligence agency, the Lal Masjid administration would be able to “topple” Pervez Musharraf’s government and enforce Sharia law in Pakistan.
However, Mr Ahmad reports that Maulana Fazalur Rehman, the chief of the JUI-F, claimed that the intelligence agencies were deceiving the clerics and playing them false.
The Maulana alleged that a “dispute” between two spy agencies was behind the matter.
Justice Shahzado Sheikh, the lone judge on the Federal Shariat Court’s Lal Masjid Commission, also took statements from government representatives, although former president Pervez Musharraf and prime minister Shaukat Aziz failed, for the third time, to appear before the court.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been asked to serve them notices yet again through the embassies.
Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, who was the federal railways minister in 2007, cited his unrelated portfolio and “not very cordial” relationship with Shaukat Aziz when telling the court he “had had no mandate” to influence the government on the situation.
He claimed, since the matter was not brought into the federal cabinet, he did not know who ordered the military operation.
Abdul Shakoor Tahir, then-Chief Coordinator for PTV, told the commission that he had planned the “special transmission” on the Lal Masjid operation.
He said, however, that the interview with a burqa-clad Maulana Aziz had not been his initiative. Justice Shahzado Sheikh turned finally to Shanaz A. Riaz, Director-General of the Federal Directorate of Education.
The court asked her to suggest possible reforms, including scientific education, that could help influence madressah culture and reduce the likelihood of such incidents in the future.