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Lal Masjid repair, renovation to be completed in 15 days

ISLAMABAD: Lal Masjid repair, rehabilitation and refurbishing work would be completed within 15 days.

In pursuance of the decisions of a high-level meeting presided over by the President General Pervez Musharraf, Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman, Kamran Khan Lashari hurriedly called an emergency meeting of the CDA high officials for assessing the damages suffered by Lal Masjid, while the repair and revamping work was immediately started, which would continue day and night. 

Meanwhile, Nespak, Pakistan Engineering Council and CDA engineers have started the scrutiny of the Jamia Hafsa infrastructure. Initial report said that Jamia Hafsa should be demolished by declaring it dangerous.

On the other hand, Islamabad Chief Commissioner, Khalid Pervaiz has made arrangements for immediate transport of the summarily interrogated cleared students from among the 243 to the Sports Complex from Adiala Jail.

Lists of dead, injured to be on display today

ISLAMABAD: Federal Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said Saturday that four to five such corpses have been identified after the Operation Silence that might be of the foreigner militants.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that the lists of the deceased, the injured and the arrested persons would be made available at the Sport Complex and a duty officer will be stationed there round the clock to provide the affected families with the requisite information.

The minister said that on the whole 102 persons have lost their lives in the operation, among them 91 are civilians, 10 army and one Rangers officials.

The number of injured people in the operation is 248, among them 27 persons are admitted to PIMS, 44 are in CMH, Sherpao said adding the remaining people have been discharged.

Aftab Sherpao said that 242 students are still in jails, the students below 18 years have been sent home, adding that Maulana Abdul Aziz’s wife and two daughters will remain in custody, as there are cases filed against them.

CDA has been directed to put in shape Lal Masjid again, whereas the decision regarding Jamia Hafsa will be made in consultation with the engineers, the minister remarked.

He revealed that the government had the tape of Abdur Rashid Ghazi when he was pleading for the safe passage for the foreigners.

FROM TODAY'S NEWSPAPER

Lal Masjid operation 
Musharraf for release of casualty figures to media;Orders early renovation of mosque
ISLAMABAD: President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Friday directed the interior and information ministries to provide details about persons who had surrendered, were killed or injured or released during the Lal Masjid operation to the media so that people's reservations could be addressed at the earliest.

Chairing a high-level meeting to review the deteriorating law and order situation in the NWFP in the post-Lal Masjid situation, the president directed the authorities concerned to provide all the information to the media about the Lal Masjid operation.

The president directed the provincial government to take all possible measures to maintain law and order, assuring that the federal government would extend full support to them. In this regard, he said, the police and security forces would be increased in the NWFP and the tribal areas and they would be equipped with modern training, latest weaponry and communication systems. These measures would enable them to work in a better way to crush terrorism and extremism, he observed.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, President PML, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani, Religious Affairs Minister, Ejaz-ul-Haq, Minister of State for Information Senator Tariq Azeem and senior officials of law-enforcement agencies. –Online

Asim Yasin adds: The president also stressed the need to expedite the implementation of 'Madrassa Strategy' in consultation with all stakeholders, particularly the Wafaq-ul-Madaris. The meeting discussed the law and order situation, including the suicide attacks in Swat and Miranshah. 

The president eulogized the professionalism, devotion to duty and, most of all, the restraint shown by the security forces in the operation. He also directed immediate steps for the renovation, uplift and beautification of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa.

The meeting was also briefed on the recently-concluded operation in Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa. It was noted that from the layout of fortifications, deployment of weapons and other evidences collected from the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa compound, it was apparent that its defence had been planned by hardened militants and terrorists.

The meeting was informed that the security forces exercised extreme restraint and, as a result, suffered greater casualties during the operation in order to ensure the security and release of innocent people being held hostage by the terrorist elements.

The president noted terrorism and extremism had not ended so far "We have to crush the militancy and extremism with full force. If we do not take sweeping steps now, tragedies like Lal Masjid would continue to take place.” 

Reviewing the law and order situation, the president directed the provinces to take all security measures. The federal government will provide whatever assistance is needed in this respect. He urged seminaries to impart contemporary education besides religious education compatible with the needs of modern age. The Wafaq-ul-Madaris should play its role in this regard, he underscored. 

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said necessary directives had been issued to the provincial governments to maintain law and order following the Lal Masjid operation. According to sources, the president directed the departments concerned, particularly the interior ministry, to take immediate steps to lift the curfew in Sector G-6. 

You are joking, SC tells govt 
Seeks full details about casualties; orders authorities to lift curfew, release 188 detainees

ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday faced embarrassment when Deputy Attorney-General Tariq Mahmood Khokhar provided the Supreme Court a list of only six people from all those who had been either killed, injured or arrested during the Lal Masjid operation.

"You are just joking with the court," remarked Justice Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi. "This is a human rights case and we had asked you to submit a concise statement in this regard," he added.

A two-member bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi and Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokar was hearing a suo moto case of Lal Masjid. The bench, during the last hearing, had directed the government to submit before the court a concise statement regarding the number of people killed, injured and released during and after the Lal Masjid operation. 

The bench ordered to restrict the curfew to the areas adjacent to the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa and directed the government to consider lifting it in the G-6 Sector besides releasing 243 persons detained under Section 188.

The apex court further directed the government to provide medical facilities to Majida Younas popularly known as Umme Hassaan, the principal of Jamia Hafsa, and the spouse of Maulana Abdul Aziz.

It also directed the government to release all those 243 persons who had surrendered to the government during the Lal Masjid operation and were detained under Section 188, the bailable offence. 

On Friday, DAG Tariq Mahmood Khokhar, Chief Commissioner Khalid Pervez, DG National Crisis Management Center, Ministry of Interior, Brig (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema, IGP Islamabad Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmed and Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Ali appeared before the court. 

IGP Chaudhry Iftikhar, however, saved the government from further embarrassment by telling the court that 629 persons were arrested after their surrender of which 386 were released while 243 were still in jail under Section 188 offences. 

At this, Justice Abbasi said that these were bailable offences and they should be released at the earliest. The IGP told the court that out of 243 persons, 10 were on physical remand while others on judicial remand. 

The IGP, while giving the details of bodies, told the court that a total of 102 people were killed in the operation, 86 during the operation and 16 before launching it. Among those, 91 were civilians, nine were from the army and one from Rangers.

He further told the court that 1,097 people were rescued during the operation including 465 females and 629 males and 3 minor children. He further said that Umme Hassaan and her two daughters Asma and Tayyaba, after their surrender, were detained under FIR No 224 and were on physical remand for seven days as they were involved in different cases. 

Meanwhile, Chief Commissioner Islamabad Khalid Pervez told the court that the government would take the final decision in the evening (Friday) regarding lifting of curfew in G-6 Sector. The IGP further told the court that one female student namely Samia, daughter of Manzoor Ahmed, resident of Bahawalpur, was in the shelter set up by the government as her parents had not yet approached them for taking her home.

At this, Justice Abbasi directed that if the government had the information of her residential address, then it should take speedy measures for handing her over to her parents. The IGP told the court that during the Lal Masjid operation, 248 people were injured, including 41 from army and three from Rangers. At this, the court asked for details of these civilians with their names and directed that it should be provided today (Saturday) to the Registrar office. 

The court further directed that the names of those people who had not yet been approached should be released to the media so that their relatives could take them to their respective areas. 

Brig (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema told the court that out of five bodies of the family of Maulana Abdul Aziz who were not identified, one Hassan was identified. Meanwhile, Hashmat Habib, Advocate, the counsel for Maulana Abdul Aziz family, appeared before the court and said that Majida Younas alias Umme Hassaan, who is in custody of the government and a patient of jaundice is being kept in a hot place, and, therefore, she should be provided proper medical treatment. At this, the court directed that proper medical treatment should be provided to the spouse of Maulana Abdul Aziz and adjourned the hearing. 

102 killed in Lal Masjid operation, Sherpao 
Announces lifting of curfew in G-6 from today


ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao has announced that government would lift curfew in sector G-6 from Saturday morning (today).

Addressing a press conference here on Friday he said 102 persons were killed, including 10 Army personnel and a Rangers Jawan in the military operation at Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa, while 248 injured.

As to the total casualties during the operation, Sherpao said, the number is 102, including 10 Army personnel and a Rangers Jawan. “Seventy-five persons died on the day the offensive was launched.”

He said that during the operation 248 injured, including the officials and belonging to the security forces, were taken to different hospitals. “Now only 27 out of those are still under treatment in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS). The rest were discharged after being administered first aid. There were 44 injured from the law-enforcement agencies and they were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Rawalpindi. The rest have been discharged,” the Interior Minister told.

Sherpao, announced that curfew in Sector G-6 would be lifted from 6am on Saturday (today). “I want to express my gratitude to the resident of Sector G-6, who displayed a great deal of patience and understanding. We also feel that they went through very tough times because of the curfew but it was for their safety and security. We thank them for their patience. The curfew would be lifted from tomorrow from 6am,” he added.

“However, the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa and their compound would remain ‘cordoned off’ as well as some adjoining areas but not under the control of Army personnel. There are no houses in this area. Two roads fall in this area and instructions would be displayed there for the alternate routes which could be used,” Mr Sherpao said.

Flanked by the Secretary Interior Syed Kamal Shah and Director General, National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) Brig (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema, Sherpao told that there are at least five or six persons killed in the Lal Masjid operation who ‘seem to be’ foreigners, most probably belonging to Central Asian states, but added that the final confirmation of the fact would be ascertained only after a procedure involving some (medical) tests.

He said the bodies of the dead in the operation other than the 11 security personnel, were identified by their relatives handed over to them. However, 81 unclaimed bodies have been buried at the H-11 graveyard as ‘Amanat’. “Seven among them were identified with the help of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) through their fingerprints.” the minister added.

He said that earlier in the day President Gen Pervez Musharraf chaired a high-level meeting and directed that all the information about lists of all those who have died, injured, or who have been detained as well as those who have already been released or handed over to their parents should be prepared and displayed at the Sports Complex. 

“We will display those (lists) there (at the Sports Complex) for the parents because not every body can have access to the (Interior Ministry’s) Website. These lists would be displayed there tonight and from tomorrow all this information would be available there. Effort would also be made to make it available on the Website (of the Ministry of Interior) so that confusions are removed and there should be no ambiguity,” he said.

Responding to a volley of question the minister said that only Umme Hassaan and her two daughters are involved in cases and their remand was already acquired from the court of law. About Maulana Aziz’s son, the minister said that he was among the dead and has been identified. About the whereabouts of the family of Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the minister expressed his ignorance. However, the Federal Interior Secretary, Syed Kamal Shah, said that their family (family of the wife of Ghazi Abdul Rashid) had already taken them away.

Answering a question as to how many women and children were present inside and where are the foreign militants the minister responded that 27 women and two little girls came out on the day of the offensive. There were a total 465 women who came out earlier.

“About the foreign militants, we will let you listen to the audio of Ghazi Abdul Rashid in which he has asked what will happen to the foreigners. You may know that the dialogue failed only because he was demanding safe passage to them (the foreigners). We have photographed some bodies that we suspect to be the foreigners. We need to carry forward some further investigations, like their DNA tests. But we have their pictures and they may be Central Asians,” Sherpao said.

About when the repair and restoration work of Lal Masjid will start and whether Jamia Hafsa will also be repaired, the minister said that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) was already told to start repair of Lal Masjid.

About the females and children the Interior Minister said that there was only one lady who is still with the government. She belongs to Hyderabad and her parents are coming over. She would be handed over to her parents as soon as they would arrive, Sherpao said.

Regarding women casualties Mr Sherpao replied that there were some charred bodies found as well which are beyond recognition. “The identification process is continuing. It is possible that there may be four to six women among them but we have not been able to identify them so far,” he said. 

Regarding the children under the age of 18, he said that all of them have been handed over to their parents. There are 242 persons still in jail, he said. About the role of intelligence agencies behind the presence of all these arms and ammunition in Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid the Minister said that the process of investigations is on in the case. 

“Let us determine the whole situation. Only then we would be able to tell something to the nation. Why are you so jumpy? Why are you are demanding as to who is involved in this,” the Minister appeared visibly irked. 

Similarly, he refused to give an answer about the role of Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil as he said he had no information about that. About the display of rockets from Lal Masjid while none was used during the operation by those inside Jamia Hafsa or Lal Masjid the Interior Secretary, Syed Kamal Shah, pointed out that at least one was fired on an APC and the information at that time was shared with the media. 

Regarding the ‘rumours’ of firing on the plane of President Gen Musharraf as it was taking off from the Chaklala Air Base, the minister said that there was no firing at the plane of the president. “However, we found some weapons there and investigations are continuing and some arrests have also been made,” he said.

He said the government fully supports the Madrassas and don’t want that these should be used for militancy and this is the collective responsibility, of the government, the media and the public that we have to wage a holy war (jihad) against such militancy. 

He said that the President had always been pleading the case of Madrassas as it is a parallel system that is running that caters to the need of the children of those people who cannot provide them education. 

Just because of this one Madrassa the image of all the Madrassas has been badly tarnished and obviously he has said yesterday that we do not want that any Madrassah may promote militancy. And that is why we are seeking cooperation from Wafaq-ul-Madaris and from everybody else to cooperate with us, the Interior Minister said.

Rallies assail raid on Lal Masjid 

ISLAMABAD: Thousands of protesters throughout the country on Friday rallied to denounce the army raid on the Lal Masjid and pledged to strongly resist any action against religious seminaries, warning the government against the demolition of Jamia Hafsa. 

The protest demonstrations and rallies were held on the call of Wafaq-ul-Madaris al-Arabia.

The Khateebs of mosques in their sermons expressed sorrow over the loss of precious lives during the operation, claiming the assault could have been averted. The lawyers community also joined the protest by offering Ghaibana Namaz-e-Janaza outside the offices of district bar associations in different cities. The major congregation in this connection was held at the Karachi Bar Association.

The religious leaders in their speeches particularly targeted President General Pervez Musharraf and Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Ejazul Haq. They said the two were chiefly responsible for the operation.

In Islamabad, MMA deputy secretary general Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri led a demonstration in front of Wafaqi Urdu University near Zero Point. The protest rally started from a nearby seminary in Sector G-7.

The protestors were chanting slogans against President Musharraf and members of the Federal Cabinet. The MMA leader claimed the death toll was higher, alleging the government was trying to hide the exact number of deaths.

Haideri also called upon religious circles and students not to be a part of the government’s “manoeuvering” so that it could not harm their seminaries. He said the tragic incident of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa was the darkest chapter in the history of Pakistan in which hundreds of innocent people lost their lives.

In Rawalpindi, a rally was taken from Raja Bazaar. The rally was led by local MMA leaders Dr Muhammad Kamal, Maulana Abdul Majeed Hazarvi and others. The leaders of Wafaq-ul-Madaris pledged to continue the joint struggle for the protection of deeni madaris in the country. They also announced every sacrifice for protection of Jamia Hafsa, saying they would strongly resist the demolition of the Jamia or attempt to change its status.

Our correspondent adds from Karachi: The concerned Islamic organisations, religious institutions, and seminaries staged demonstrations and held meetings on Friday to observe a day of protest against the massive use of military force and killings of Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa students and other people associated with the seminary. 

Speakers at various protest meetings and demonstrations castigated the government policy of launching the operation against the Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid at a time when mediation efforts of leading religious scholars and Ulema of the country were nearing materialization to end the deadlock. 

Addressing protestors at one of the main demonstrations at Masjid-e-Nauman Lasbela, the central secretary-general of Jamaat-e-Islami said that the Gen Musharraf-led government had unduly used and exploited the armed forces to unleash violence against the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa students.

He said launching full-scale military crackdown against the students and clerics of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa had served no cause and interest of the nation but in fact it was a step criminally intended to spread serious anarchy and unrest among the people of Pakistan. 

Former senior NWFP minister Sirajul Haq said that launching of Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa military operation had caused serious distrust and hatred among the public against the role and objective functioning of the armed forces.

Amir JI Karachi Dr Mirajul Huda Siddiqui said that the military action had been launched against the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa students in order to please the Americans and other imperialist forces, who have been actively working on an agenda to defame and damage the cause of Islam. 

MMA Parliamentary leader in Sindh Assembly Maulana Umer Sadiq said the Musharraf government had become severely extremist and fascist in its drive to perpetuate its illegal and anti-Islamic rule in the country and further the interests of western powers.

Muhammad Ejaz Khan adds from Quetta: Speakers of Sada-e-Muslim conference Friday demanded of the government to release all those who had been apprehended in the operation and reinstate Maulana Abdul Aziz as Khateeb of the mosque. 

The conference was organised by JUI-F’s MNA Maulana Noor Muhammad who strongly condemned the attack and demanded of the MMA’s legislators in Balochistan government to part ways from the ruling PML-Q. “There is no justification for the MMA leadership to sit on the treasury benches in Balochistan Assembly,” said the central leader of MMA Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, who had played an important role in forming the coalition of the religious alliance and the PML-Q after the general elections of 2002. 

Earlier, the participants of the conference and activists of the JUI-F staged a demonstration at the Mezan Chowk. Agencies add: In Lahore, 20,000 men, women and children offered prayers for the victims at a mosque.

“This was genocide, hundreds of innocent women and children died,” said Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa organisation, which is the political wing of the banned Kashmiri militant group Laskhar-e-Taiba.

“This is a challenge for all Muslims and Pakistanis,” Saeed told the Juma prayer congregation. Saeed said the government casualty figures were fake. “It is state terrorism, it is extreme brutality and those who killed the innocent will have a horrible fate,” Saeed said.

In Peshawar, thousands raised their hands to pledge that full support would be provided to Maulana Abdul Aziz and his family while next Friday was fixed to lodge an FIR against Musharraf and others for “killing hundreds of students in Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid”.

Khateeb Mohabat Khan Mosque Maulana Yousaf Quraishi demanded of the MMA to quit Balochistan and the NWFP governments, saying they (MMA leaders) could not avert the operation and failed to protect innocent students of Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid against ‘Yazidiat’.

In Multan, students of Jamia Khair-ul-Madaris came out of the institution on Friday to stage a demonstration and shouted slogans against the government. In Hyderabad, hundreds of students and teachers of various religious seminaries took out a rally here after the Friday prayers against the military action at Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa and condemned the killing of innocent people.

Govt launches damage control campaign 

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to launch a vigorous “damage control” campaign in different spheres in the wake of the bloody operation at the Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa Complex.

President Gen Pervez Musharraf has firmed up a strategy in this connection after discussing it with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, Religious Affairs Minister Ejazul Haq and Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani with inputs from senior officials, an official told The News.

Ejaz has been assigned the task to boost up his contacts and coordination with religious sections, including the Wafaq-ul-Madaris, to diffuse the pressure that they are exerting on account of the operation. The minister will meet different religious leaders in the near future, the official said.

Ejaz told a meeting chaired by the president that the most-important religious groups would not support any anti-government agitation due to the storming of the Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa Complex because they had already disapproved these militants’ policies.

Durrani has been assigned the task to highlight the government’s case at different fora and closely work with independent print and electronic media and arrange seminars for the purpose.

Sherpao has been directed to project the details of the operation so that “misconceptions” about it are dispelled. Pakistan Muslim League (PML) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain would take care of the political front to control the damage to the government because of the operation.

Controversy over casualty figure persists 

ISLAMABAD: The official casualty figure of the Lal Masjid's operation is said to be even a surprise for some of those who took part in the action although the military spokesman termed such assertions a pack of lies.

A source, who had long association with the Army and claimed to have met some members of those directly involved in the operation, told this correspondent that the official death toll announced by the military spokesman does not even click to those who were witness to the gory event.

The source insisted that women and children were also among those killed but the military spokesman repeatedly denied in his official briefings. When contacted, the military spokesman and Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj General Waheed Arshad said that if the source of this correspondent's story is from military then he is simply telling lies.

Arshad, who when compared to his predecessors appears too pleasant a person to talk to and never loses temper even over an explosive question, said that he has been telling facts to the media.

The stories about the heavy death toll, however, are not fading away. Not only some of the ministers are reported to have said that more than 200 deaths are expected, the media reports and opposition voices also apprehend that the number of those killed in the operation runs in several hundreds.

A student of Jamia Hafsa claimed in Geo's Capital Talk show on Friday that when she left the complex on July 6 there were already 100 dead bodies of Hafsa students and 80 dead bodies of male students. She also claimed that 800 female students were still in the complex when they left on the insistence of Umme Hassan -- the principal of Jamia Hafsa.

It is also relevant to mention here that Dr Shahid Masood in his extremely touching column that appeared on Friday in Urdu daily Jang talks of two sisters of the age of 7 and 15, who the Geo anchorperson confirmed had lost their lives.

A senior journalist, after her Thursday's visit of Lal Masjid wrote, "Room after room had the same untold story written on the walls with deep bullet marks on all four walls of the rooms and on the roofs. It raised many questions about the official claims that there was stiff resistance from the compound. The dominant view was that more occupants may have been killed."

The journalist further wrote, "Dozens of slippers of women and children seen in the corridors of the Jamia gave the impression that they ran for their lives when the commando operation was launched on Tuesday."

Regarding the ammunition recovered as claimed and shown by the authorities, the source said that the soldier he talked to inform him that there was no site of rocket launchers, RPG etc. The military spokesman, however, said that during his recent briefing he has been repeatedly telling the media about the use of such weapons by the "militants" of the Lal Masjid.

The source said that it has also been claimed that during the commando action equipment that sense through cemented roof or wall the presence of any human beings were also used and where the result was positive some roofs were even exploded causing heavy casualties. But in the DG ISPR's view he had never heard of any such gadgetry. The News crime reporter Shakil Anjum, who visited the complex on Thursday said that he did not see any collapsed roof but revealed that hardly 20 per cent of the complex was open for journalists' visit.

The soldier, who was part of the operation, was also quoted by the source as admitting that there was an extremely stiff resistance that the military authorities had faced. He said that the Lt Colonel Haroon Islam lost his life when he was acting as a cover for those commandos who were assigned to create a hole in the complex inner circle.

Captain Suleman Farooq Lodhi, the source said, when entered into a hall while leading his team got trapped by a hidden armed man who opened a volley of fire mainly targeting his chest. Two commandoes, he said, became the victim of an apparently dead armed man, who according to the source, was critically injured but was thought to have been killed. 

Qazi criticises victory signs by Army commandos 

MMA President Qazi Hussain Ahmad Friday said displaying victory signs by Army commandoes after massacring innocent countrymen, women and children was an open insult to Islam, humanity and patriotism. 

Delivering a Friday sermon at Mansoorah, he said, “Washington is using its agents to occupy the resources of the Muslim world and killing those were who resisting the plan.” He warned Muslims could never regain their lost glory without removing the agents. 

He claimed thousands of victims of Jamia Hafsa had been buried in mass graves in the darkness of the night while their parents were searching for them. He said military rulers had crossed all limits of cruelty and apathy the way they were covering up their crimes against humanity and withholding information about missing children. He questioned the dual standards of the West.

Demos against Lal Masjid operation 

HYDERABAD: More than 150 students of different religious seminaries on Friday staged a protest demonstration against the killings during the Lal Masjid operation and raised slogans in favour of Jihad and Abdur Rashid Ghazi on a call of the Wafaqul Madaris.

Carrying placards inscribed with anti-government slogans, the charged protesters also raised slogans, including "Stop action on the directives of the US".

MMA district president Abdul Waheed Qureshi, Taj Mohammad Nahion and other religious scholars condemned the government for killing "students". 

They blamed Gen Musharraf for breaking the deal between Ulema and the Lal Masjid administration at the eleventh hour to use force to crush the "students" of the seminary. They said any action against any other religious seminary would be resisted.

Our Khairpur correspondent adds: Lawyers of Kandiaro boycotted courts against the Lal Masjid operation. 

In Khairpur, after Juma prayers, Ulema condemned the commando action against the "students". They said the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa administration was not spreading terrorism and was urging the rulers to enforce Shariat. 

Our Nawabshah correspondent adds: Ulema condemned the government action against Lal Masjid on Friday. 

In various resolutions passed at different mosques of the district during Friday prayers, they termed the assault in Islamabad an "unnecessary use of force by the government".

They alleged the government "staged a drama of dialogue" with the Lal Masjid administration after giving free-hand to media to show stick-wielding "seminary students" to the world due to which the Western media got a issue against Islam. 

No Juma prayer at Lal Masjid

ISLAMABAD: Citizens have expressed their immense grief and sorrow as the first time in the history of Lal Masjid, the Juma prayer was not offered in the mosque. Deputy Commissioner Chaudhry Muhammad Ali had directed that the Juma prayer be not held in the mosque. The Juma prayer was offered in the mosque last Friday by people present in the mosque during the operation against Lal Masjid.

Ghazi never sought amnesty for his foreign friends: Julandhari

MULTAN: Commenting on the Thursday’s address of President Gen Pervez Musharraf to the nation, Wifaq-ul-Madaris Secretary-General Qari Hanif Julandhari on Friday said Abdul Rashid Ghazi did not demand an amnesty or safe passage for foreign friends. Talking to newsmen by phone here on Friday, he said: “There is no truth in the claim that Ghazi demanded a safe passage or an amnesty for his foreign friends.” He said Gen Musharraf repeatedly referred to the Wifaq-ul-Madaris but did not mention its proposals to resolve the Lal Masjid issue. He wondered why the government amended the reconciliation formula formulated by a joint team of the Wifaq-ul-Madaris and the government. “There wouldn’t have been such an incident had the government fulfilled its commitment and rebuilt the demolished mosques,” he said. Julandhari said the Wifaq-ul-Madaris never opposed the mission of the Lal Masjid administration. 

Crackdown against Lal Masjid justified’

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has said that there was no room to let the clerics of the Lal Masjid go scot-free as they had victimised citizens in the name of Islam. He said that the protest against the Lal Masjid operation by some political and religious parties was not justified and added that the operation would not have been carried out by the government had they (clerics) not opted for violence. He stated this while addressing Haq Parast members at Nine Zero, Azizabad the other day, said a statement issued by MQM on Friday from London. He said that the clerics of Lal Masjid kidnapped governmentt officials at gun point and tried to impose Shariat through danda.

Legal fraternity 

KARACHI: The legal fraternity on Friday offered funeral prayer in absentia for the victims of Lal Msjid. The funeral prayer, attended by a handful of lawyers, was held on the MA Jinnah Road, blocking vehicular traffic for about half-an-hour. As part of their ongoing protest campaign against the presidential reference, the lawyers also boycotted court proceedings for one hour and observed a four-hour token hunger strike. The lawyers condemned the operation against Lal Masjid saying the act reminded the days of Hitler. While criticizing the president’s speech, they said that the head of the state had admitted that he was forced to use guns against his own countrymen and termed it a shameful step. They also criticized the demolition of mosques and converting them into Sunday Bazaars. 

People who came in search of loved ones missing 

ISLAMABAD: Some unfortunate persons who came to the federal capital to search for their loved ones during the operation against Lal Masjid have gone missing.

Interestingly, those for whom they came here reached homes safely. 

Saeed Khan from Karak, aged 55, who came to Islamabad to find his daughter on 3rd July was lost somewhere. His daughter reached home on July 4.

Abdul Azeem, s/o Shamshair Khan, from Swat, who came to look for his nephew Fida Muhammad, s/o Fazal-ul-Rehman, is also missing. Fida, however, reached home safely. Hafiz Abu Bakar Satti s/o Raja Muhammad Irshad Satti from Village Barhad, Kotli Sattian, who came to Lal Masjid to take his sister back home, has disappeared in Islamabad. His sister has returned home safely.

People gathered in Pakistan Sports Complex for taking their loved ones to home, said that these disappeared people might have been killed during crossfiring or that they might be in jail.

When ‘The News’ contacted the Adiala Jail, an officer confirmed the presence of only 

Saeed Khan in the jail. When asked how long it would take to release Saeed Khan, the offical replied that the Ministry of Interior could respond to such questions.

When attempts were made to contact Syed Kamal Shah, Secretary Interior, he was not available for comments. 

Students plan to discuss Jamia Hafsa’s fate with PM 

ISLAMABAD: The students and teachers of Jamiah Hafsa intend to call on Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to know about the fate of their seminary that took a pounding from the government troops this week.

The News has learnt that a number of students were contacting religious scholars and MNAs to seek guidance from them on the matter.

Yasmin Ali (name changed on request) who studied at the seminary for five years said that the day the firing broke out, as many as 580 students were to receive their "Mualimat" (teachers) degrees. The successful students were given "Chaddars" called "Rida-e-Fazeelat" and made heirs of Hazrat Fatima.

She said that she was greatly disturbed by seeing images of the seminary in the aftermath of the operation. "One of the rooms in the basement that got burnt down and was part of the footage used to be my classroom," she said, recalling how things were when the times were good.

Yasmin, a computer sciences graduate expressed surprise on seeing a case of Pepsi shown lying in one of the rooms. "This brand was never allowed in the campus and I wonder how it got in there," she said while denying there was ammunition on the school premises.

She said that papers retrieved from pockets of those killed in the operation were wills written by students six months ago. "In their wills, they had stated that they were ready to lay down their lives for the implementation of sharia," she said and added that the parents were told not to mourn their deaths.

When the firing first began on July 3, Yasmin was assigned the job of helping girls who suffocated following intense teargas shelling by the security forces. She was among girls who managed to sneak out from the hospital after learning that police were about to arrest the students. 

Yasmeen said that they would appreciate introduction of subjects taught in modern schools. "If the government is sincere to develop Madrassas then it should make Jamia Hafsa a model for other girl seminaries rather than demolishing it as has been reported in some sections of the Press." Established in 1992 with four rooms and 100 students initially, the school has provided religious knowledge to thousands of girls besides offering shelter to hundreds of homeless girls.

At the time of the operation, the Madrassa had two massive floors with the third under construction and more than 5,000 girls enrolled of which 4,000 were living in the premises of the seminary.

Jamia Hafsa has branches in others cities 

ISLAMABAD: Jamia Hafsa has its branches in cities like Mianwali and Taxila, reveals its website that is still activated even after the operation and the, subsequent, destruction of the madrassa.

Although, the Lal Masjid operation has silenced its key architects, the website still speaks and keeps disseminating its messages about the enforcement of Islamic Shariah.

Its also carries the press statements and interviews of late Abdul Rashid Ghazi.

The website also carries a speech of Maulana Abdul Aziz that had urged Pakistani youth to prepare themselves for Jihad against the bombardment carried out in North and South Waziristan. 

On its introductory page, the website claimed that Jamia Hafsa was the largest institute for women in the world with enrollment of more than 6,000 female students. Late Maulana Abdullah was the founder of this madrassa, the website said. Now, it is under the supervision of Maulana Abdul Aziz, the website adds. 

Although, Umm-e-Hassan, the wife of Maulana Aziz, is the principal of Jamia Hafsa, its name has been mentioned nowhere in the website. 

Jamia Hafsa, whose foundation was laid down in 1992 by late Maulana Abdullah, started its work with two rooms, the website said. 

The website has also made mention of Auntie Shamim who was held by Jamia Hafsa’s students for allegedly running a prostitution den.

It carries the videotape on the impressions of the people living in the neighborhood and the street of Auntie Shamim’s residence. 

Besides, there are also answers to the objections raised by different sections of the society on Jamia Hafsa’s version of Islam. 

The details of press statements issued by late Abdul Rashid Ghazi are also available on the website. In one statement late Ghazi has condemned the Minister for Religious Affairs, Ejaz-ul-Haq, for criticising Jamia Hafsa on the abduction of female Chinese running a massage center in a posh sector. 

In another statement, Ghazi has lauded Ejaz-ul-Haq for issuing condemning statement against Salman Rushdi. 

Ghazi’s another statement that Shahid Jamil Qureshi must be removed for the cabinet is also displayed on the website. 

Articles written by a number of columnists supporting the cause of Jamia Hafsa like Auria Maqbool Jan, Irfan Siddiqui and Saeqa Kanwal are available at the website. 

There is also a letter on the website that late Ghazi had written to the vice chancellor of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU). In the letter, he deplored the allegations that two QAU’s professors — Dr Shireen Mazari and Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy — had leveled against the students of Jamia Hafsa and termed them unfounded. 

He had mentioned the allegation that attributed the incidents of throwing acid on face of women. Late Ghazi not only termed it unfounded and a defamation campaign, he had given a certain example to prove that he had been a staunch supporter of women’s socialization but under the prescribed Islamic limits. He had referred to a certain level of freedom that his wife enjoyed like self-driving. In the end, he asked the vice chancellor to request these scholars on his behalf and urge them not to attribute baseless allegations to the madrassa.

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