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Are Rulers Anwserable to Masses?

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Message Muhammad Khurshid
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I think the impression that there is rule of law in the world has proved to be wrong as so far the events showed that "might" is right. Those who have the power are immune from any law. Why can't we ask questions of the rulers and expect answers?

The Lal Masjid fiasco exposed many ugly faces. Now even the tribesmen, the most ignorant and uncivilised people, have been asking the questions as how the arms in such a huge quantity were brought to the mosque.

Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan. Pakistan is frontline state in war on terrorism launched by US President George W. Bush. A large number of US officials have been staying in the capital of Pakistan. Why did they ignored the mosque for such a long time?

Like most of the people I am also of the opinion that either the officials deliberately ignored the Lal Masjid or they have failed in their duties. In both cases they must be held accountable.

But who will make them accoutable as I see no court in the world where these rulers can be challenged. So far countless innocent people, mostly women and children, were killed in the mad war.

Pakistani newspapers have started asking the question. One wrote that "eighty per cent of the operation," to quote an army spokesman, had been completed to expel the terrorists from the Lal Masjid when these lines were written, and Abdul Rashid Ghazi had been killed, though resistance from hard-core militants was still going on, with the death toll in the vicinity of 150.

While no tears will be shed over the death of the well-armed militants gathered around him by Ghazi, our hearts go out to the families of those innocent men, women and children who were killed during Tuesday's operation or in the fighting earlier.

The responsibility for the death of the innocents and the trauma of those who have survived rests with the extremists who held hostage those whom they had lured into the mosque for giving them lessons in Islam. Instead, in a most perfidious way and in a way that behoves perhaps hardened criminals, they used men and women as a human shield to save themselves.

That was the reason why the late-night talks which had aroused hopes for a peaceful solution failed. The government's mistakes in the entire drama notwithstanding, one has to admit that it exercised the utmost restraint. It kept talking to the Aziz-Rashid brothers for months and used a variety of channels to free the hostages and disarm the militants.

On the Lal Masjid mafia's directives, its militants had raided a home, attacked shops, and kidnapped not only police officials but also seven Chinese nationals. Instead of reciprocating the security forces' restraint, the militants burnt a nearby building, leaving the government with no option but to retaliate, though the security forces' response on July 3 was in low key.

Finally, after the fighting escalated and the elder brother was caught and over 1,200 hostages were released, Abdul Rashid Ghazi refused to show any flexibility. Even Maulana Fazlur Rahman accused Ghazi of intransigence. Those who went to negotiate with him included Maulana Abdul Sattar and Bilqees Edhi and some of the country's respected ulema, but Ghazi remained obdurate. He and his militants fired on parents who had gone to the mosque to meet their children.

The Ghazi band's isolation from the nation was total, for no madressah leaders anywhere in the country came to their support, and the little bit of support they received came from the politically motivated ulema and those pro-Taliban elements in Fata who are already in a virtual state of war with Pakistan's security forces.

There is no room for complacency, and the government must relentlessly pursue terrorists and criminals masquerading as 'soldiers of Islam'. They are in a position to keep creating trouble for the government every now and then, but as Abdul Aziz's escape bid and the outcome of the Lal Masjid stand-off show, they are cowards because they know their stand lacks a moral basis.

The nation's support for the authorities on the crackdown against the Lal Masjid brigade should strengthen the government's position. The episode also shows that self-proclaimed mujahids committing crime after crime cannot fool the Pakistani people by taking cover under religious slogans.

Those arrested should be tried and given every chance to defend themselves in an open trial. The government must also order an inquiry into why and how the intelligence agencies failed to get wind of the goings-on in the Lal Masjid and the stockpiling of arms and ammunition in such large quantities. Talibanism has destroyed Afghanistan. Let it not harm Pakistan.
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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is also (more...)
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