Oct 6, 2007

Red Mosque: Some Unanswered Questions.

In London review of Books, Tariq Ali (website), an astute observer, blasts the myth of extremists taking over Pakistan.

He says that the European and North American papers give the impression that the main, if not the only, problem confronting Pakistan is the power of the bearded fanatics skulking in the Hindu Kush, who as the papers see it are on the verge of taking over the country. In this account, all that stops a jihadi finger finding the nuclear trigger is Musharraf. Alas, it now seems he might drown in a sea of troubles and so the helpful State Department has pushed out an over-inflated raft in the shape of Benazir Bhutto.

In fact, the threat of a jihadi takeover of Pakistan is remote. There is no possibility of a takeover by religious extremists unless the army wants one, as in the 1980s, when General Zia-ul-Haq handed over the Ministries of Education and Information to the Jamaat-e-Islami, with dire results.

He explains the details of the saga of Lal Masjid and then remind the readers that following questions are still unanswered:

1. Why did the government not act in January?
2. How did the clerics manage to accumulate such a large store of weapons without the knowledge of the government?
3. Was the ISI aware that an arsenal was concealed inside the mosque? If so, why did they keep quiet? What was the relationship between the clerics and government agencies?
4. Why was Aziz released and allowed to return to his village without being charged?
5. Has the state decided to relinquish its monopoly of violence?
full article

BBC- Lal Masjid in pictures click here
NY times on Red Mosque - click here
Pervez Hoodbhoy on Lal Masjid - click here

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