Ansarul Ummah (AU) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil on Tuesday told a one-man judicial commission on the Lal Masjid incident that the operation had been pre-planned.
According to Khalil, former president Pervez Musharraf had decided to use force against the inmates of the Lal Masjid, and sending a team for talks with mosque clerics was merely a cosmetic measure.
During the operation, it was Khalil who was delegated authority to hold talks with the government on behalf of deputy cleric Abdur Rashid Ghazi during the operation.
“Ghazi wanted to settle the issue peacefully through talks. I had managed to bring him around and agree on the government’s demands but Musharraf had already planned the operation,” Khalil told the commission headed by Justice Shehzad Sheikh of Federal Shariat Court in his written and verbal statement.
Ghazi died inside the mosque’s compound, along with dozens of others, on July 10, 2007. The government’s negotiation team, headed by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, and the mosque’s delegation had met and agreed upon a five-point agenda for ending the conflict. However, the official delegation left at the last minute to get the agreement approved by Musharraf.
“Musharraf rejected the agreement altogether and imposed new conditions that included the surrender of 30, not five, Lal Masjid men. I managed to convince Maulana Ghazi on that, too,” Khalil said. “But just when we were holding talks, the security forces stormed the mosque.” He said it was Musharraf’s ‘hard-headedness’ that caused the catastrophe.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2013.
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