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Make or Break for Mushy

July 6, 2007

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If you have read this blog over the last few months, you’ll know I have written negatively about Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. But sometimes, just sometimes, my heart goes out to Mushy.

Arguably, the most isolated military dictator to come out of Pakistan’s power-hungry barracks, at the receiving end of Bush’s you-are-either-with-us-or-against-us War on Terror, FIVE assassination attempts by rogue militants, continuously harangued BOTH by Pakistan’s Islamists and Secularists, one wonders how well Mushy sleeps at night.

I heard somewhere Mushy reads himself to sleep. Maybe he reads Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid, who’s recently written semi-favorably about his regime. For my preview of Hamid’s recent book, check dis out. 

In any case, if you haven’t been following International News, you may not know the crisis over the occupied Lal Masjid in Islamabad. But if you have, you will know of the mad mullahs, Maulana Abdul-Aziz and Maulana Abdul-Rashid and their taking hostage hundreds of women and children.

So what do these mullahs want?

According to Shahan Mufti , star journalist in the making:

The mosque and adjacent women’s madrassah, Jamia Hafsa, have been the base for some five thousand religious students who have operated under the leadership of two brothers, Ghazi Abdul Rashid and Maulana Aziz. Their aim: to “Islamize” the Pakistani capital under their interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, and then carry the movement to the rest of the country.

Apparently, students associated with this mosque had already instituted a moral police.  Ala Taleban, young men associated with the mosque (also women) often armed, went around busting prostitution rings, burning pornographic material in video stores, and “establishing a symbolic sharia court in the mosque.”

But the straw that broke the camel’s back was their recent kidnapping of several Chinese women, which you may know about, from a massage parlor in upscale Islamabad.

Needless to say, the Chinese goverment wasn’t amused; Mushy was let off with a wrap on his shoulder. But it was cue enough to act.  

At first, Mushy tried diplomacy. Especially because intelligence reports suggested there maybe suicide bombers inside the mosque. Crazy.

Religious leaders, the minister of religious affairs, the Saudi ambassador, and even the imam of Mecca’s most sacred mosque were sent to engage the Lal Masjid clerics. But every time the pressure was ratcheted up, the brothers threatened jihad against the regime, and the government seemed to back down. 

But there was only so much backing down Mushy could afford, with pressure from the West and Pakistani secularists for being easy on religious extremists. Soon there was a massive detachment of police, rangers, and troops, like they were India-bound or something. Except this time, they were mosque-bound.

The troops pounded the mosque, several have died in exchange of gunfire, and parts of the mosque have been destroyed.  Yet, Mushy is loathe to order an all out attack, which would cause great bloodshed.

Apparently, there are more than a thousand trapped inside the mosque, with a few hundred rogue Mullah wannabes patrolling them. BBC reports:

The Interior Minister, Aftab Sherpao, said 740 men and 400 women had so far left the mosque.

Mr Sherpao said he believed 300-400 students were still inside, of whom around 50-60 were hardcore militants.

It’s unclear if these crazies have connection to Al Qaeda or Talebans. Despite the religious right clamoring for Mushy’s downfall, they have also rejected these mosque occupying mad mullahs.

Very early on in their campaign, they were ejected by Wafaq-ul-Madaris, the central board of madrassahs in Pakistan. The Islamic Ideology Council, the Islamic wing of the Pakistani legislature, also criticized them heavily.

The worst, is that a lot of these guys are armed to the teeth. The black market for small arms in Pakistan is a topic for another post.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2007 8:11 pm

    Sajid,

    You might want to make that “Six assassination attempts” http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/06/world/asia/06cnd-pakistan.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

    There’s one small pet peeve I have with your write-up, as I did with the BBC op-ed by their Pakistani correspondent: religious police was not invented by the Taliban but adopted by them from the Saudi model. Somehow the Saudi vice squad are being kept out of BBC (and western media) wrath. Fine, not “somehow”, let’s just say through lubrication.

  2. Sajid permalink
    July 7, 2007 2:15 am

    Haha!

    Point well-taken.

    I thought of this. But I thought that the Taleban made for a better analogy because just like the Lal Masjid crazies, the Taleban were not only trying to police, but “create change” in a certain social status quo they saw as unIslamic.

    While the Saudi muttawa are more along the lines of an ‘enforcement’ force.

    But you are right, AsifY. The muttawa deserves mention in a discussion such as this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muttawa

    Btw, been enjoying your published pieces much.

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