The devil's workshop and justice undone

Justice is supposedly blind, and in the case of Lal Masjid, it is also mute.

Vaqas June 11, 2012
Justice is supposedly blind, and in the case of Lal Masjid, it is also mute.

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, treason is:
The crime of doing something that could cause danger to your country, such as helping its enemies during a war.

Given, some members of the world community look at Pakistan as being a country full of radicals and terrorist-sympathisers, but I would like to believe that is largely untrue.

Eyewitness testimony says our troops were fired upon while they were still outside the mosque, which according to military protocol is cause enough to breach the complex. So forget helping enemies, those who opened fire were enemies of the state, while those who chose to remain inside in spite of prolonged efforts to evacuate the building, were at the bare minimum guilty of complicity.

Incidentally, the same dictionary defines terrorism as:
The use of violent action in order to achieve political aims or to force a government to act.

The way I see it, kidnapping, torture of a uniformed police official, refusing to disarm when ordered to do so by the state and threatening violence against female Quaid-i-Azam University students fits that definition.

Historically speaking, I am no fan of the actions of our generals, but the eleven soldiers who died in the operation were not just martyrs; they were, and will always remain, heroes. They, like the thousands of their martyred brothers-in-arms who fought the Taliban, died protecting you, me, and every other freedom-loving citizen of Pakistan.

Just for a moment, forget about any accusations of past military or government support for extremist elements and think about that. The jawaans (soldiers) did not take those decisions, nor would they ever be in a position to influence them.

They followed orders, they were attacked, and they followed protocol and retaliated. To call their sacrifices into question, which the court has not, but the right wing certainly has been doing since day one, is to dishonour the armed forces.

And as for the argument that the Lal Masjid crew were acting in self defence, when a solider with a gun says disarm and walk out unharmed, one is supposed to disarm so he may walk out unharmed. If the Lal Masjid Brigade’s behaviour during the operation counts as self defence, so should the actions of the Sialkot lynch mob and anyone who tried to take the law into their own hands and then fought the police to avoid arrest.

Before Operation Sunrise, the military gave Lal Masjid students an opportunity to evacuate, which many took up. Now at the bare minimum, those who refused to leave were defying an ultimatum from the government and the army. They chose to take on the state. Whether the arms they had were due to an intelligence failure or agencies’ complicity, they did take arms against the state.

Like many chicken hawk warriors, their brave leader, Abdul Aziz, was willing to cross-dress to escape rather than die with the youngsters whom he was sending to their graves. For this, he is a free man. Oddly, he was not tried under the FCR to get a sham conviction, because somebody quite rightly thought that as the man ordering the harassment of civilians and the taking of arms against the state, he would easily be found guilty in any court. But then, since some people think that as a dictator, everything Musharraf did must be wrong, the operation was also wrong.

The intelligence agencies could easily disprove this, given that the Aziz family had long been regarded as assets. But they won’t, because like much of the antics of the agencies, a state secret, no matter how well known to the public, remains a state secret. Just like the Taliban, the Afghan Mujahideen, and the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad were not agency-backed.

Mr Aziz’s rants against the state and humanity are nothing new. The SC even had to put up with him wasting their time as he ‘asked’ CJ Chaudhry to bring about Sharia law via suo motu in March. Unsurprisingly, the court asked him to keep his mouth shut to save their time.

This enemy of Pakistan, who built a mosque and madrassa on encroached land (illegal under Islamic Law) has managed to get land allocated to him beyond the dimensions of what the complex actually occupied --- land which belonged to the Civil Defence Department, and was supposed to be the site for their offices.

Now, instead of a place for lifesavers to work from, the Jamia Hafsa Brigade, which terrorised parts of the city with their baton-wielding antics, will have a headquarters near most of the city’s major co-ed universities, while Civil defence will have nowhere to work from. This will not end well.

The Supreme Court has shown a surprising degree of leniency towards Mr Aziz, largely because insufficient evidence has been presented against him. That is not at all unbelievable, because the police have shown remarkable laxity in investigating terrorism-cases, focusing instead on petty criminals that pose no real risk to the lives of innocent citizens like small-time gamblers and drug ‘peddlers’ with a few grams of hashish or a single bottle of booze. While they may be sins and indeed crimes, these things don’t kill.

Terrorism and hate speech do.

Mr Aziz walks a free man because the state wasn’t able to present a strong case. Yet, it would be ludicrous to think that such evidence does not exist.

It is up to those withholding information to release it. If not for the sake of justice, then at least to honour those who died fighting a war that wasn’t theirs.

Read more by Vaqas here, or follow him on Twitter @vasghar

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