Lal Masjid Commission Report: How Many Were Killed?
Whether it is the social media or any political programme, when there is a mention of the 2007 Lal Masjid operation, almost always we hear about the “thousands” of “boys / female students, including teachers” who were killed in this operation. There is also the mention of the alleged “collective burial” of students.
The ones throwing around these allegations, however, do not tend to refer to what is probably the most crucial document on this matter:
Suo Motu Case No. 09/2007
Title: Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa Incident: The Report Of The Commission (304 pages)
Author: Justice Shahzado Shaikh (Judge, Federal Shariat Court / Commission)
A quick background of this report:
In 2012, a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, appointed a senior judge of the Federal Shariat Court, Shahzado Shaikh, to head the judicial commission to probe a number of questions pertaining to the 2007 Lal Masjid operation.
This one man commission had 45 days to submit its report and the police was ordered to hand over all documents relating to this case to the Commission.
Few would dispute the assertion that Iftikhar Chaudhry was an open enemy of Musharraf. The former was unnecessarily aggressive and outspoken, even challenging people to bring forth cases against Musharraf.
In other words, an enemy of Musharraf had ordered his selected judge to investigate the matter in-depth. Things could not have been more fair and balanced for the former President.
So one wonders, why do the ones who constantly mention the supposed killings of “hundreds and thousands” of “boys, female students, and teachers” not make use of this 304 page report?
The answer seems simple: none of their claims are supported by the Lal Masjid Commission Report. Unfortunately, this basic fact is not well known by the masses.
In addition to this, the Commission Report shows how the ones making the above claims like some media personalities, reporters and politicians – simply refused to cooperate with the Commission Report despite repeated requests.
The Report highlights in great details on two most important aspects which clarify that the number of casualties as suggested by concerned parties was not 1500-2500 but was in reality 103.
- 77 militants were killed during operation
- 10 Army personnel were killed during operation
- 16 were killed before the operation commenced (1 ranger and rest civilians, as a result of indiscriminate firing from lal masjid terrorists)
- Total deaths: 103
The report directly quotes the statements made by Chief Commissioner of Islamabad, Deputy Commissioner Islamabad, Mr Bani Amin, IG Police Islamabad, Syed Kamal Shah and Iftikhar Ahmad, Former IGP Islamabad which suggest that the total number of casualties was indeed 103 of which 77 were militants, killed during the action.
The Commission Report engages with the claims of Female Casualties and Collective Burials one by one. I summarise the main points below:
- Summaya Raheel Qazi, Fareed Ahmed Paracha, Nuzhat Ara, Builqees Saif and Mian Muhammad Aslam, appeared before the Commission and submitted the following booklet to the Commission: Qirtas-e-Abiyaz. According to these individuals, this booklet is a “Fact Finding Mission” report produced by the Mutheda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), compiled on 03-10-2007.
According to the Commission Report (p. 161):
“The Commission, after thorough study of the above said reports, once again asked Mian Muhammad Aslam and Fareed Ahmed Paracha to appear before the Commission, and give evidence regarding their claims mentioned in the above table/report, but both the said witnesses did not appear to assist the Commission.”
- The Alleged Deaths of Saima, Ayesha, Tajali Noor, Nimra, Yasra, Sajeela Khan, Nargis, Sidra, Amina Yousaf and Lubna:
The Commission Report States (P. 161):
“Regarding the alleged death of Saima, Ayesha, Tajali Noor, Nimra, Yasra, Sajeela Khan, Nargis, Sidra, Amina Yousaf and Lubna, the Fact Finding Commission had not provided any evidence. The Commission wanted the above mentioned members of the Fact Finding Commission to give the Commission any details about the above mentioned girls, on account of which the Commission could reach the truth about their alleged death, but no assistance in this regard was provided.”
- The Alleged Collective Burial of Bodies:
The Commission Report States:
“Similarly, the Commission wanted the Fact Finding Commission to point out the place near Firing Range No.3 of Sehala Training College, where allegedly the dead bodies were buried collectively, so that, if so required, that place could be examined for further necessary action, but again no assistance was provided in this regard.” (p. 161)
- Claim By Dr Shahid Masood: In his article “Meray Mutabiq” titled “Kon Thein? Kahan Chali Gain?” referring to the telephonic conversation made with Asma, a student of Jamia Hafsa, had claimed that in the operation between 9th and 10th of July 2007, the said Asma and her elder sister had died. Allegedly both the girls belonged to Butgram and had three brothers. Dr Shahid Masood claimed to use fictitious names of the dead girls (pp. 161-162).
The Commission Report states (p. 162):
“Time and again, through summons, he was asked to appear before the Commission, and give evidence in this regard, so that their whereabouts could be traced through their parents, family, etc., and as such the death of the said girls could be verified, but he did not appear before the Commission.”
The above is not all. The Commission Report includes interesting information about the deeds of the Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa management prior to the operation. We learn about the acts of terror committed by this management and the threats issued by the Ghazi brothers. We are also informed about the constantly changing demands of the management, how those scholars shunned / condemned the brothers and how the then Government took tremendous steps to attain a peaceful resolution.
The important question is as follows: besides a few basic details, why aren’t these facts mentioned in our media and why is “Maulana” Abdul Aziz not confronted with tough questions from the Commission Report?