By Khalid Muhammad

Ayesha Siddiqa never fails to amaze me with her shortsighted analysis of military affairs. Today, she decided to pen an article casting her doubts on the military’s inaction against Lal Masjid.

Let us be clear about the history behind this infamous place. It was once a bastion of training for mujahideen going to Afghanistan for the Afghan War. It was also well used by jihadi fighters going to Kashmir, if we are to believe the analysts and commentaries that have been written in the past.

The writer makes a point in showing that the courts have been unwilling to take action against the ISIS affiliated hate preacher in the middle of Islamabad, the military supposedly “protecting” him, and the political government “accommodating” him. She even points out that the operation that took place in 2007 was instigated by the Chinese or the Americans. The Chinese because some of their citizens were kidnapped by the Lal Masjid Brigade (LMB). These are all assumptions that point to the conclusion that she would like you to come away with – the military is unwilling to touch one of their blue-eyed boys.

Now, let’s look the actual facts.

Lal Masjid has been a thorn in the government’s eye since Musharraf’s time. The radical clerics that occupy the mosque are still part of the mentality that kept the flames burning in Afghanistan long after the Soviets pulled out. This is a fact that can’t be denied.

All of us remember the 6 months in 2007 prior to the Lal Masjid operation. From the media to the citizens, everyone was asking the same question – when will the government take action against Lal Masjid? The chorus was strong. The pulpits were full. The natives were restless. And then Hamid Mir asked Musharraf during an interview – “Why haven’t you taken action against Lal Masjid, Mr. President?”

Musharraf paused and calmly said – “Hamid, I know everyone is saying that I should take action today and end this problem, but I know what is going to happen. When the operation starts, you will be the first one to condemn me for taking action.” And that is what happened.

Whether the first shot came from the SSG Commandos or from the masjid itself, the fight started and the media swung sides. The LMB was now the innocent victim of a violent military action.

This is a fact that can’t be denied.

When the operation was over, every news channel was talking about how many innocent children had been killed by the military, the weapons that were supposedly used and whether the operation was a requirement or not; the same media that was screaming for action… Another fact that can’t be denied.

Musharraf was charged by the families of the radical cleric, Rashid, for his murder. The case is still on-going in the Islamabad High Court from what I know. The courts and judges stood together and allowed this.

Maulana Abdul Aziz was freed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Iftikhar Chaudhry. So when we talk about the courts not taking action, remember it was people like you, Ms. Siddiqa, that protested for these courts to be re-instated. The argument of the accused was that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by Abdul Aziz or his brother. The court agreed.

I guess all the television and print interviews don’t exist any longer or is it that television programs can’t be used as evidence in a criminal case?

Facts that can’t be denied.

It should also be clear that the first act of this government was to stop all military operations against the TTP in favor of negotiations. While the military was silenced, the government attempted negotiations with a group that had splintered three ways so that they could continue to wreak havoc on Pakistan and murdering innocent Pakistanis at will. This is a fact that can’t be denied.

But this was all before the all powerful National Action Plan was rolled out. The National Action Plan squarely placed all the power in the government’s hands to take action against ANY anti-state element. Abdul Aziz pledged his and Lal Masjid’s allegiance to ISIS and invited al-Baghdadi to Pakistan to take revenge for the 2007 military operation against them. Fact that can’t be denied.

Chaudhry Nisar, the current Federal Interior Minister (that’s like head of Homeland Security for those of you playing outside Pakistan), stated clearly in a press conference days AFTER the announcement of the National Action Plan, that he and his brother had studied under the Father, knew both the Sons. All that was missing was the Holy Ghost for the Lal Masjid trinity of evil to be worshipped fully. This is a fact that can’t be denied.

It also can’t be forgotten that prior the operation in 2007, Rashid threatened that if there was an attack on the mosque from the military, they had “prepared and dispatched 50,000 suicide bombers throughout Pakistan.” 6 months after the operation, the TTP came into existence and Pakistan’s bloodiest period of this war started.

Might it be, for any seasoned military strategist or analyst, that the armed forces are eliminating all the support networks that the LMB could use against Pakistanis, before striking the head of the snake once and for all?

You can tell that her article is an attempt to turn opinion in a specific direction because the only facts that she presents are the missteps of the courts to take action. Everything else is “apparently, supposedly and possibly.” Those aren’t words of fact, they are attempts to cast doubt on an armed forces that is achieving success against the terrorists in the country.

Next time, Ms. Siddiqa, please keep your opinion making based on ALL the facts, not just the ones that support your argument. You end up sounding like Fox News, rather than someone who might have some credibility.

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