The resurgence of Lal masjid and honouring knowledge with ignorance

Published: May 8, 2014

He ordered hundreds of young men and women to commit treason by taking arms against the country’s army, telling them to risk their lives for their beliefs. PHOTO: AFP

The Crusades were an example of a diminishing empire declaring war on an ever-expanding opponent using religion as a pretext, even though the motives were actually territorial and economical, and the actions of its soldiers more satanic than godly.

The Muslim world was at its peak around this time, its libraries a source of light for the world, its share of scientific output unmatched, and its religious zealots confined to the fringe.

Western writers have described one of the Crusader leaders’ orders following the sacking of Jerusalem as ‘kill every man, woman and child, but spare the dogs’.

That same kind of chivalry has been displayed by one belligerent party in the war on terror, with attacks sanctioned on little girls who simply wanted to go to school. These warriors also want the legal system changed, which could be done through the ballot box without shedding blood, but that would require popular support in a blind vote, which they know they don’t have. To add on to the list, they carry out kidnappings, sell drugs and are involved in other serious crimes, justifying them as being for the greater good, namely financing their activities. The same is used as a partial justification for why the peace, love and forgiveness messages of religion are skipped.

This is what we call ‘selective religion’.

Meanwhile in Islamabad, a man ordered hundreds of young men and women to commit treason by taking arms against the country’s army, telling them to risk their lives for their beliefs. And then, when faced with the opportunity to lead by example, he ran away wearing gloves, high heels and women’s clothing. It would seem that in his world, cowardice and hypocrisy are attributes befitting a great leader.

The only reason he got caught was that an eagle-eyed policeman noticed that one particular ‘female’ madrassah student was unusually tall and had horribly-maintained feet. Had he gotten a pedicure and used some nice Revlon red nailpolish, he would probably have made it out. He would have continued his war against the state, no doubt with the help of his former house guests, who included internationally-loved gents such as Mullah OmarAyman al-Zawahiri, and Osama bin Laden.

Speaking of which, in the aftermath of the operation, letters recovered from the mosque showed that the cross-dresser and his dead brother were in contact with al-Zawahiri, who also called for an armed uprising in Pakistan.

But I digress.

More on topic, the man was then tried and released after a number of ‘technicalities’ kept coming up to, quite literally, save his neck.

According to the supporters of the then-dictator, this had less to do with evidence and more to do with the personal enmity that had developed between the judiciary and the executive branches. After all, the man had admitted to ordering kidnappings and assaults, and later he had allegedly refused to allow women to leave the mosque when the government offered them amnesty and safe passage. Of course, he didn’t forget that offer when it came time to make his own escape.

Ever since he became a free man, he has taken every chance to increase his public profile, and the media has been more than willing to give him all the talk time he wants, no matter how far off topic he goes. The incumbent government even thought that this unrepentant man would be the right guy to represent the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in peace talks, perhaps forgetting what happened the last time he acted as the face of a belligerent group. He soon left the committee, most likely because he started making his own demands instead of presenting TTP’s.

Now, he has named a library after a person whose admirers have killed Pakistani soldiers and civilians, while having the gall to say the man was a hero to the Pakistani public.

Throughout the media stunt era of his life, he has taken advantage of the fear generated in society by religious fundamentalism. He will make unsupportable claims, knowing that no one will question them. They might get thrashed, or worse, blown apart by his peace-loving, gun-toting, self-igniting students in the end.

That also explains why, when asked to comment on the record about the operation or the belligerence, people who lived near the mosque were not very keen to give clear answers. However, a teenager with a pushcart was more than willing to offer an answer. He said he was too young to remember it, but his father, who brought him and his family down from Bajaur to escape the fighting there, recalled it as an out-of-the-frying-pan case.

Unfortunately, the child had no comment on the new Osama bin Laden library. He was too busy trying to piece together a life ruined by a war to concern himself with a building’s name.

On a side note, the new Mumtaz Qadri Mosque has a similar story. Its backers claim they have public support, but news reports suggest that neighbours were outraged by the name, yet also afraid to say anything on record for fear of reprisal. They know that whatever they do, the state is unwilling to confront those glorifying terrorists and traitors; except when the guy on trial for treason had a head-to-head with the incumbent prime minister.

Vaqas Asghar

Vaqas Asghar

The author is a senior sub-editor on the Islamabad Desk and also reports on diplomatic events. He tweets as @vasghar (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shah (Berlin)

    Dear writer,…well written…Recommend

  • Sami

    Pakistan is not an Ideal Society. Most of the demons we see around us are created by ourselves. Did you ever wonder what is the cause of all of this mess. In my view it is social inequality, injustice, lack of educational opportunities and exposure that leads to problems.

    The country where the Poor students will go to Madressah and Urdu medium, Middle class will vouch for English medium and Higher class will go for O-A levels then what you will expect??.

    Do you know the Enrollment rate of Madressah Student in any University of Pakistan is less than 2 percent?? Where the millions of students of this category will end up then.?

    In the end O-A level group will end up in top management positions and i am sure more than 90 percent staff of Express tribune will be of the same category. Middle class schooling will be everywhere in the middle tier. The lower tier will be filled by Madressah students.

    At present Poor cannot afford good education at all. Millions of Children are studying in Madressahs because they have nowhere else to go. These Madressahs also provide abode to the poor students, free lodging and free food. The question is where is the state?

    Infact the solution is simple. Rather than bashing Seminaries discuss the fundamentals. Introduce Universal Curriculum. Give equal opportunities to all. Introduce critical thinking, brainstorming and analytic skills from an early age. Give exposure to everyone. Show the young minds what is going on around us and i can assure you the society will change on its own and Tolerance will prevail ultimately.Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    Dear sir excellent blog. The cross dresser is being given undue representation to carry out his satanic goals.Recommend

  • Saleem Asghar Mian

    Excellent piece. You have the guts to show these evil persons for what they are. They, by no stretch of imagination, are the thekidars of our religious beliefs, but definitely will twist and turn events to propagate their jaundiced point of view.Recommend

  • Satti

    Your point might be right…but y did the majority elect again a corrupt party???.. If you want to change you can change even without having money..its the will power…!!!Recommend

  • Adpran

    “Unfortunately, the child had no comment on the new Osama bin Laden library. He was too busy trying to piece together a life ruined by a war to concern himself with a building’s name.”

    That boy is poor, hungry, and can’t go to the school. But instead of care on him, you are concerned to the name of a room in private building?.

    If people like you don’t care to children like him, then a group maybe will show their care and recruit those children. Maybe as militant, maybe as criminal.Recommend

  • M Ali

    I’ll go out on a limb and assume that you’re toting PTI’s line. Social inequality, injustice and lack of educational and employment opportunities exist in a lot of other countries, including those with large Muslim populations (Bangladesh, Indonesia, India) but this kind of violent, pathological religious obsession is unique to Pakistan. Socioeconomic reasons do play a role, yes, but mostly this is the direct result of decades of nurturing or tolerating toxic ‘national narratives’ by various leaderships (establishment or civilian) and giving disproportionately large public space to people who would normally be on the far edges of the lunatic fringe of society.Recommend

  • hozzurr

    . ”And then, when faced with the opportunity to lead by example, he ran away wearing gloves, high heels and women’s clothing. It would seem that in his world, cowardice and hypocrisy are attributes befitting a great leader.”… He wants the poor and gullible brainwashed children to die. They are made brain dead with religious indoctrination in which he does not believe other wise he would not have run away from the “Religious School” he was running and where he was preaching.Recommend

  • Sami

    Where did i mentioned money in my discussion actually?. Also The democracy in Western World matured recently in the last 50 years. It is an Evolutionary step. So kindly dont wait for the miracle. Our democratic norms will not change in a fortnight.Things will change but it will take time.Recommend

  • Sparrow

    Spot on! Author. If there is a way to rate this blog on a scale of 10, I would have given it 9 only if 10 is not acceptable. Keep it up and bless you.Recommend

  • Alann

    If people like this guard who killed a Governor of a state of Pakistan, and that Lal Masjid fellow, AND this certain lal topi defence analyst appearing on Pakistani news channels, as well as the Jamaat-Ud-Dawa fellow who roams around with armed bodyguards and incites violence among the youth wherever he goes through his speeches – if all such people are thrown in jail or simply ‘disappeared’ from the public, it will help tremendously to get Pakistan back on the track to progress.
    Even today there’s BIG support for such “religious” people among the general public of Pakistan. Till the time such ‘influential’ people are eliminated, Pakistan will keep going back towards 7th century slowly but steadily.
    P.S. Now even “Boko Haram” has arrived in Pakistan. Militants announcing girls should not go to school & western education should not be taught. It is really time the Government (or the Army actually, as it controls Pakistan) wakes up to reverse this process of Pakistan’s decline, instead of conducting peace talks.Recommend

  • Anoop

    As I’ve pointed out in these pages before Jinnah, who called for Direct Action day against the minorities of Muslim majority Bengal, which lead to the death of 5000+, has his face on the Pakistani currency.

    Naming a few things after Osama and Qadri are the least troublesome.

    Remember CM of Bengal responsible for Direct Action day riots went on to become Pakistan’s PM.

    To put things in perspective : 9/11 which Osama is responsible 3k died, Qadri killed 1 man, Direct Action day call by Jinnah resulted in the death of thousands.

    Why fuss over a library in some remote corner of Pakistan, when the same principles are not applied to selecting the face of the Nation’s currency?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Excellent write up.
    When one sees this type of thing progressing without check, one can not but appreciate the theory that…….Pakistan can not be attacked from the outside, so its enemies must break it from the inside……..and that is what we see happening. What is not understandable is that why are those who have sworn to protect Pakistan, not doing so.Recommend

  • Landhiwala

    Here is what you forgot to mention. This country has gone down the drain.
    Somebody wrote in a comment: ‘Somalia with nukes.’ Dont delude yourself.
    This is Dante’s Inferno, can decide which level you are on.Recommend

  • Khushab wala

    You are right. This not an ideal society. It is a very sick society. The most dangerous and the most corrupt, the world. With Punjab leading the way.
    OBL library,..Qadri Mosque,..are in Punhab.Recommend