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Old 07-03-2007, 10:01 AM   #1
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terrorists hit mosque in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan(AP) Security forces clashed with militants outside a radical mosque in the Pakistani capital, triggering fighting that left one soldier dead, several students and troops injured, and two government buildings on fire.

The battle marked a major escalation in a standoff at the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, whose clerics have challenged the military-led government by mounting a vigilante anti-vice campaign in Islamabad.

Trouble began when student followers of the mosque, including young men with guns and dozens of women wearing black burqas, rushed toward a nearby police checkpoint early Tuesday afternoon.

Police and paramilitary Rangers fired tear gas and, as the students retreated, an Associated Press photographer saw at least four students, some of them masked, fire shots toward security forces about 200 yards away.

Gunfire was also heard from the police position.

A man used the mosque's loudspeakers to order suicide bombers to get into position.

"They have attacked our mosque, the time for sacrifice has come," the man said.

An hour later, dozens of students were patrolling the area around the mosque, and sporadic shots were still heard. There was no sign of security forces, who have massed in the area in recent weeks, moving in on the mosque.

The students later set fire to the Ministry of Environment after tearing down a section of the wall around the three-story building near the mosque and pelting it with rocks.
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Old 07-03-2007, 03:43 PM   #2
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i was seeing the TV footage...

lots of people fully covered in black clothes running around... with young girls as shield
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Old 07-03-2007, 03:55 PM   #3
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based on an article on CNN it looks like the terrorists are from within the mosque. http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapc....ap/index.html

Quote:
Authorities have been at loggerheads with the mosque for months over a land dispute and after its followers began a campaign to impose a Taliban-style version of Islamic law in the capital.

Students have carried out a string of kidnappings of police officers and alleged prostitutes, including several Chinese nationals, and have threatened suicide attacks if security forces intervene.

Critics have lambasted the government for negotiating with the clerics instead of arresting them, and blamed President Gen. Pervez Musharraf for the creeping "Talibanization" of Pakistan.

Hundreds of police and paramilitary Rangers have taken up position near the mosque in recent days in what officials have said is an effort to contain their activities.

Musharraf said last week that he was ready to raid the mosque, but warned that militants linked to al-Qaida had slipped inside and that the media would blame any bloodbath on the government.
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Old 07-03-2007, 05:38 PM   #4
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So al-Qaida strikes again. Disgusting.
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Old 07-05-2007, 02:23 PM   #5
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[q]Mosque attack adds to Musharraf woes

By Shahan Mufti
Christian Science Monitor, July 5


ISLAMABAD--The showdown between security forces and militants, holding out in the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad, could not have come at a worse time for President Pervez Musharraf. The gun battle in the heart of the Pakistani capital Tuesday, which left 16 dead, comes as the president reels from a series of crises: a judicial challenge to his continuing rule, an unprecedented unified political opposition movement, a hostile popular media, and floods along the southern coast that have displaced over 200,000 people since last week. Yet the continuing crisis and its attendant media coverage also left commentators ambivalent as to whether Pakistan's secular liberals or religious extremists will emerge emboldened from the government crackdown. "How this will play out in the months to come is subject to the grand ending of this episode," says Syed Talat Hussain, a journalist and commentator. "If religious parties see dead bodies and blood on their television screens, they will take a hard stand. If this is somehow negotiated peacefully, the extremists will lose out."

The standoff appeared to be heading towards a peaceful conclusion after the head imam, Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghazi, was arrested as he tried to escape the mosque dressed in a burqa late Wednesday evening. When the Monitor went to press on Wednesday, the remaining few hundred extremists in Lal Masjid were still negotiating terms with the government through intermediaries and appeared to be willing to settle the standoff without further violence.

The violence in Lal Masjid that finally burst open this week has festered for months in an acrid and delicate political environment. The mosque and adjacent women's madrassah, Jamia Hafsa, have been the base for some five thousand religious students who have operated under the leadership of two brothers, Ghazi Abdul Rashid and Maulana Aziz. Their aim: to "Islamize" the Pakistani capital under their interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, and then carry the movement to the rest of the country. Their campaign had involved vigilante moral policing operations like busting prostitution rings, raiding video stores, burning pornographic and other "immoral" media, and establishing a symbolic sharia court in the mosque. But when the "Lal Masjid Brigade" kidnapped half a dozen Chinese nationals from a massage parlor in an upscale neighborhood of Islamabad, "the government drew a red line," says Rasul Baksh Rais, a political scientist at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

Special army forces surrounded the mosque compound this week, and a few students finally launched an offensive with high-grade military weapons, instead of the wooden poles they had wielded in public thus far. "The government managed to reach clarity by accident," says Mr. Hussain. "The president didn't have this on his agenda right now, but finally his hand was forced."

While it had avoided confrontation until now, the government did send several envoys to the isolated mosque in the hope of reaching a settlement. Religious leaders, the minister of religious affairs, the Saudi ambassador, and even the imam of Mecca's most sacred mosque were sent to engage the Lal Masjid clerics. But every time the pressure was ratcheted up, the brothers threatened jihad against the regime, and the government seemed to back down. "This government has survived by talking out of both edges of its mouth – keeping multiple options open. It's been their strategy," says Hussain. This may be a result, some observers say, of the uncertain environment the government operates in. A political opposition that smells blood has been ready to pounce on the slightest mistake the president makes. Opposition parties have been criticizing the government's inaction for months, but Musharraf has been much more trepid.

Only last week, Musharraf attempted to strike a deal with the media. During a National Media Workshop, Musharraf said the government would take action against Lal Masjid only if the media guaranteed not to show any dead bodies. Since violence broke out – and TV cameras were present – the criticism has begun. Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the chief of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, or the United Action Front, a coalition of Islamic parties, criticized the government for its "ill-conceived act, which will bring disaster and anarchy to the country."

"The government had been very careful not to open a religious front," says Rais. At the same time, he concedes, the government "has done pretty well in isolating the Lal Masjid clerics from all sides." Despite the growing tensions between the religious right and Musharraf, Lal Masjid clerics were unable to garner any support even from the religious camp. Very early on in their campaign, they were ejected by Wafaq-ul-Madaris, the central board of madrassahs in Pakistan. The Islamic Ideology Council, the Islamic wing of the Pakistani legislature, also criticized them heavily.

But while Pakistanis were, for the most part, critical of the Lal Masjid Brigade's tactics of intimidation, harassment, and kidnapping, few in the country were ready to stand behind the brigade's obvious opponents: prostitution and pornography. Many agreed that something needed to be done about the lax Islamic moral standards in the increasingly cosmopolitan capital city. "Many people in Pakistan feel as though the cultural changes taking place around them in the name of 'enlightened moderation' are not a true representation of their ethos," says Khalid Rahman, the director general of the Institute for Policy Studies in Islamabad. "After all, we have to recognize that people did start approaching the Lal Masjid with complaints about their neighborhoods – things they found painful to witness."[/q]
The writing's on the wall for Musharraf now, on that there seems to be consensus--as to what will come next, that's a lot less clear.
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Old 07-05-2007, 02:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

The writing's on the wall for Musharraf now, on that there seems to be consensus--as to what will come next, that's a lot less clear.
Who cares about Pakistan?


Iran might get nuclear weapons in the next 5-10 years.
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Old 07-05-2007, 03:51 PM   #7
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Right, what is a country that already has nuclear weapons against a country aiming to get those?
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Old 07-05-2007, 04:01 PM   #8
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To hit us.
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Old 07-05-2007, 04:38 PM   #9
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You think terrorists turning over the Pakistan government getting their fingers on those weapons aren't a threat for us (take the "us" as the "western world", Europe, Israel, North America, Oceania, etc.)?
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Old 07-05-2007, 04:41 PM   #10
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gosh, i am so glad that i live here. we don't have gangs protecting our churches and mosques, haha. as bono says, "jesus, jew mohammed its true, all sons of abraham." lets grow past this nonsense
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Old 07-05-2007, 04:42 PM   #11
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Yes, dump the lot of them.
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Old 07-05-2007, 04:57 PM   #12
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Seems like Musharraf had the right idea here to let Lal Masjid people isolate themselves. The rest of country's Talibanisque madrassa operators/overlords would be reluctant to publicly back this group, as they wouldn't want to put Musharraf in a spot where public or international pressure once again asks him to shut all the country's fundamentalist madrassas down.

One thing the article didn't allude to: it's also in Musharraf's self interest to promote...oh what's the word...CHAOS in Pakistan. The kind that only military rule can control. You know...fear factor. It seems to be all the rage these days.

Funny article though, Yolland. What with the cross-dressing Imam trying to escape the mosque; the military putting up with everything up until the massage parlour got violated...the final straw!
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Old 07-05-2007, 08:32 PM   #13
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^ Yes, complete with high heels and nabbed by a posse of female traffic cops suspicious of the "lady's" pot belly...quite the embarrassment! A cartoon in the Lahore Post, I think it was, depicted him sheepishly offering "...Meow?" as he was uncovered.

True, as far as it goes this may be the 'best possible' ending to the affair for Musharraf, but I'm not sure that's saying much...definitely he was capitalizing on the chaos, both as internal distraction and to milk the beleaguered-ally image abroad; the former aim doesn't seem to have panned out too well though.
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Old 07-05-2007, 08:35 PM   #14
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It must have been chaos in that mosque.
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Old 07-05-2007, 08:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
^ Yes, complete with high heels and nabbed by a posse of female traffic cops suspicious of the "lady's" pot belly...quite the embarrassment! A cartoon in the Lahore Post, I think it was, depicted him sheepishly offering "...Meow?" as he was uncovered.

True, as far as it goes this may be the 'best possible' ending to the affair for Musharraf, but I'm not sure that's saying much...definitely he was capitalizing on the chaos, both as internal distraction and to milk the beleaguered-ally image abroad; the former aim doesn't seem to have panned out too well though.
that picture was in the newspaper here as well I think. that was actually interesting to see. you don't see that in a lot of other middle eastern countries.
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