Lal Masjid - III: ‘We only had arms for our personal defence’

Published: March 15, 2011
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Maulana Abdul Aziz says the government cannot “replace” what they have lost. ILLUSTRATION: ANAM HALEEM

Maulana Abdul Aziz says the government cannot “replace” what they have lost. ILLUSTRATION: ANAM HALEEM

ISLAMABAD: 

One of the iconic moments of Operation Silence – that managed to further shock a nation glued to continuous coverage of the siege of Lal Masjid – was Maulana Abdul Aziz removing a burqa from his face on national television. He had been caught at the airport escaping in a black burqa, and the Musharraf government had him wear it for his statement.

I ask about the incident. “How did it feel when the government made you do that, give that statement?”

“What statement?”

I wonder why he is feigning ignorance, when his wife Umme Hassan clarifies loudly. “She’s asking about when they made you wear a burqa!”

He shrugs and says he is not upset at what happened. Aziz speaks softly, with his glance cast downward. A couple of Kalashnikovs – which look like toy replicas – lie on the windowsill in the cramped room.

While Aziz says he has no regrets, grudges or complaints, he often highlights the problems he is facing. He praises the help of Haji Khokhar and Bahria Town’s Malik Riaz, but says that finances are an issue.

He believes the current government has not done anything to solve Lal Masjid’s issues.

“They cannot replace what we have lost. They cannot bring back the martyred. They could have rebuilt Jamia Hafsa, but even that is not happening. There are dozens of cases against our students. There are 20 cases against me, 10 against my wife … and against my daughter.”

“We will bear this for the sake of our faith. My father, mother and brother were martyred. I have spent time in jail. I have faith in God’s mercy.”

Aziz speaks at length about the state of affairs in Pakistan, mentioning the protests in the Middle East, and how Shariah is a solution. “The conditions and miseries of Pakistan are due to our system. Thousands of tragedies take place every year because of this system. Look at the conditions in Balochistan, in Karachi … tragedy upon tragedy keeps occurring. What happened at Lal Masjid is just one incident.”

“We believe that this country needs Islamic rule. There should be a system of Khilafat. Allah’s Shariat should be imposed. No other law can bring peace to this country.” When it comes to the siege, Aziz recalls, “We were raising our voice peacefully. We made a great deal of effort. It never entered our minds that an operation would take place.”

“Chaudhry Shujaat, Ijazul Haq, all these people … they said ‘the government will not agree to a single demand of yours’,” says Umme Hassan.

Aziz responds to the government’s claims that weapons had been stockpiled in Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa. “We did not have any heavy weaponry. We had a few licensed Kalashnikovs for our own security …”

Umme Hassan interjects, “Their family is from Balochistan. It is customary there to have weapons.” She claims that any high-ranking army officers who were killed were because of the army’s own crossfire.

Aziz continues, “I had participated in jihad. We only had arms for our personal defence.”

The government, he says, had claimed that they would compensate those who had suffered in the siege. “Did they give any money?” he questions. “They keep dragging us into lawsuits.”

“People cannot call me,” he says, a tone of regret creeping into his voice. “They question them afterwards of what their links to Lal Masjid are.”

Aziz believes that after the tragedy of Karbala, the siege of Lal Masjid ranks as the biggest tragedy in the history of Islam, and that it brought people closer to their faith. “Islam is the future of the world. The United States is being defeated. Like the Soviet Union, it will also be divided into pieces.”

When asked about the letter sent to the prime minister by Islamabad residents complaining about Jamia Faridia, Aziz says, “We do have our opponents. But we have done no wrong. If we were criminals, why were no cases ever lodged against us in the Aabpara police station? Go to the police station. They will praise Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi and tell you what I am like.”

“It is very easy to write an anonymous letter.”

While he has not made eye contact throughout our conversation, he finally looks up and smiles. “Musharraf cannot come back to this country. But I can go to Lal Masjid and lead the prayers. We are free.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Mar 15, 2011 - 11:52AM

    He doesn’t deserve any free publicity.Recommend

  • Faith
    Mar 15, 2011 - 12:32PM

    While I don’t entirely agree with him but his last statement was 100% true. He is FREE. I think Lal Masjid clerics were not as peaceful as they claim but the Government could have handled the issue in a far better way. It was a disaster. One of the darkest marks in Pakistan’s history.Recommend

  • Sid
    Mar 15, 2011 - 12:45PM

    He did not answer the question about why he wore a burqa and tried to run away with women and children. Saba, can you ask this idiot the name of the person who gave him this gem of an idea?

    Also, Musharaf might not be able to come back till 2013 however, he still has some dignity. If there was a hero in this story then it was his brother who fought valiantly and laid down his life instead of running away disguised as a woman.Recommend

  • Kamran
    Mar 15, 2011 - 1:06PM

    @fought valiantly!.. mans a terrorist disrupting peace burning property killing rangers and foreigners Well documented with pictures and videos…. Spreading his own confused versions of Islam Where Woman have no greater respect or right than a pet dog!.. It pains me to see such illiterate educated ppl write comments supporting such terrorists!.. There also should be a law which makes it illegal for media giving light to these terrorists.. its these people that spread hate and destruction and fuel murderes like bhatti and Taseer!. Our Courts dont have the b_ _ s to take step against these terrorist as the judge fears for his life!. Recommend

  • Faris
    Mar 15, 2011 - 2:28PM

    He is a hypocrite to the core, he draws parallels between Karbala and Lal Masjid, you should have asked him what he thought about Shias and Muharram and I’m sure he would have said they’re infidels. For sure he doesn’t deserve free publicity, some naive individuals might actually fall for his softness and mazloomiat once again and create another mess. Recommend

  • muhammad rafay
    Mar 15, 2011 - 2:28PM

    this terrorist deserves to be hanged.he not only illegally occupied land but then brainwashed thousands of young,impressionable boys & girls who then lost their lives because this religious nut case wanted to hold on to his territory.

    the ppp should get out of its surrender mode & arrest this guy & tear down all the other illegal mosques & madrassas constructed by occupying land & enforce the law because just because you have a beard doesn’t entitle you to break the law of the land.Recommend

  • Uza Syed
    Mar 15, 2011 - 3:44PM

    O’ yeah this is the ultimate irony that President Musharraf “can not come to Pakistan” while this guy who commanded an insurgency is “free” —– no wonder where we are heading to. My only prayers are in ‘favor’ of this Mullah and his clan and his kind — God, please, please have mercy on us and take them all from us and keep them safely in place of their choice, but without us. Recommend

  • faraz
    Mar 15, 2011 - 4:06PM

    Lal masjid was a centre of sectarian terrorist organizations before the 2007 incident. And didnt Karbala occur during Khilafat rule? Molana burqa should read some history instead of spreading hatred and intolerance.Recommend

  • Rohail
    Mar 15, 2011 - 4:09PM

    I feel sorry for Express Tribune for publishing this garbage. Shame on the students of Lal Masjid.

    Musharraf tujey Salam!Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Mar 15, 2011 - 8:05PM

    amazing the stupid media has not realized that giving these people any space in the press is a bad idea. whatever happened to not glorifying terrorists? maulana abdul aziz can fool a lot of people. but he cant fool everyone. Recommend

  • Hamood
    Mar 15, 2011 - 11:35PM

    This burqa clad coward should be charged with terrorism and hanged for inciting violence and killing hundreds of people.Recommend

  • Shahbaz
    Mar 15, 2011 - 11:41PM

    Could have been much better was he cleaned up along his brother. These religious morons serve no good cause. Who the hell did they think they were while enforcing their own law in Islamabad. Every body remembers how they torched cd shops, occupied children’s library, kidnapped people and disgraced Pakistan the world over. Musharaf was stupid enough to let them play their game of filth for six months before he thought it went way too out of control. Clean up Mullahs for better Pakistan.Recommend

  • raja
    Mar 16, 2011 - 12:24AM

    Miss Saba People like You forced Mushraf To Kill innocents children’s by Writing these articles Why don’t you write about ISI who have created All this mess in Pakistan And how many people did This aziz killed before LAL Masjid Leave Mulana On his fate if you have objection go to court Why don’t you right about Banning the arms in Pakistan we would not have that problem
    Why don’t you write about Aunti Shamim Adda video is Available on Youtube she lured Poor girls to her traps. why don’t you rite about educating the girls ( will Your brother will marry one of them).
    Poor Sulman Taseer was also killed Because he thought that People like you are behind him but no body was their to write about him He was right the Law should change write about that issue are you afraid of some thing? or You are being funded to focus on specific areas Recommend

  • raja
    Mar 16, 2011 - 12:42AM

    Dear readers please Go to court or police station to lodge a complain what is happening around you instead of supporting Mass killing on the assumption that they would have supported this group or that group and always look at things on broader prospective Mr Sulman Tasser Fatwa was issued by So called Moderate Mollvies did you ever realized that thing these Peers and guddi nasheen keeping public illiterate and declaring Other Kafirs Straight away ( case of Dr Israr) the public should be shown the true face of these people whenever a rational person think about see the difference between what they do and what they said.
    That will leads people to have opposite views as they find contradiction in their Masters and turn against them which leads towards extremism Recommend

  • raja
    Mar 16, 2011 - 12:55AM

    @raja: I have to mention one thing Any body who break law should be punished and those who kill innocents should be brought to justice I am not supporting any group Mulana was released by court that was i said leave him on his fate if he proved guilty of murder should be hanged but who are we to decideRecommend

  • Ali
    Mar 16, 2011 - 10:07AM

    Before mulla birqa aziz talks too much about his so-called peaceful movement, he should read the history of the siege of Holy Kaaba and the history of Kharijis.

    Its a pity that the media had interviewed this chap so many times but it never raised these two issues with the mister burqa.

    Its a pity that the media is still trying to give importance to these thugs to get attention.Recommend

  • Usama Zafar
    Apr 6, 2011 - 3:56PM

    The amount of criticism against the writer this article has generated reminds me of the difference between being liberal-minded and being OPPOSITE-minded. Recommend

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