Listening to sounds of bullets being fired, watching television all day and asking Allah for mercy.
These are recollections of the famous incident of the military operation of Lal Masjid in Islamabad in summer 2007. Moulana Abdul Aziz Ghazi and Moulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi, the 2 brother imams and khateebs of Lal Masjid, had stood up in open revolt against the government of Pakistan. They wanted to establish an Islamic state in Pakistan with the Islamic shariah enforced. They had included with themselves, Umm-e-Hassaan, the principal of Jamia Hafsa and the wife of Moulana Abdul Aziz, the girls studying in Jamia Hafsa and the boys studying in the madrassa of Lal Masjid. Formerly, these people had taken over a library.
Many agencies had agreed to support these people but these agencies were, in fact, unreliable as time proved it. Therefore, the two moulanas were trapped with their “fighters” in the basement of the Lal Masjid. Further, they were under siege and many of their resources were blocked.
However, the government allowed a safe passage for the students. The 2 moulanas decided that one of them should go out secretly and negotiate with the government. Moulana Abdul Aziz, hidden in a burqa, went out with the female students but was unsuccessful in his objective and was captured. He was further humiliated by being made to go in front of a camera to an interviewer in the same dress.
The siege was carried out for a few more days (I cannot remember the exact number). One day, the media was able to contact Moulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi and the moulana knowing that he had little time left contacted most of the important TV channels of Pakistan.
He told the media that his mother was breathing her last and his last breaths were also about to come. Many of his companions in the mosque had died and many others were also in their last moments. He also gave a message that their movement will not come to an end but others will be motivated by it. By evening the news of his martyrdom was announced in the media.
This was at the time of the peak of President (General) Musharraf and he had very little opposition because most of the people of Pakistan were his supporters. However, after his government mercilessly killed the students in Lal Masjid and destroyed Jamia Hafsa completely he became unpopular amongst many of his supporters. This unpopularity became so high that when it was ordered that the Lal Masjid be painted white, many people went there with red paint and painted it red again.
Another reason for the increase in unpopularity of President Musharraf was that he besieged the mosque that was old and famous and many people would go there for prayer. Many people had sent their children there for education and they were of the opinion that the issue should be resolved through peaceful negotiations.
Many people considered the sacrifices of the 2 moulanas as heartbreaking while others considered it as a foolish act. The moulanas had sacrificed all they stood for for the cause of Allah, the establishment of an Islamic state. Students sacrificed their lives and one of the moulanas sacrificed his life. Parents came to take their children away but many returned empty-handed. Why, then, did the movement fail? It was due to a few simple but important reasons.
First of all, as I mentioned earlier, the moulanas were relying on unreliable sources who eventually betrayed them. Secondly, they had not shared their plan with any of their students and neither had they sought permission from those students’ guardians. However, they had been successful in training many of them to obey their orders. Thirdly, the moulanas were not aware that the reaction of the government would be so harsh.
Finally the most important reason was that the real leader had been Umm-e-Hassaan. She had been giving speeches to her students and many other listeners in which she instigated the audience to rebel against the government of Pakistan. Nowhere in the history of Islam is there any incident where a woman was made the leader, except Battle of Jamal (Camel). Even in that battle, the leader, Hadhrat Aisha (RA), was defeated. Due to this reason, many of the important Muslim leaders and scholars were not supporting the moulanas, even though they were trying to restore good relations between the government and the moulanas.
Therefore, in the summer of 2007, you would meet many people who would say that the cause of the “fighters” of Lal Masjid was correct but their method was not.