Lal Masjid commission report: Govt reluctant to declassify sensitive documents

Source:  Tribune Published in Justice on Monday, September 28, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The government is unwilling to open the sealed envelopes and documents appended to the report of the commission that had investigated the 2007 siege and subsequent army operation at Islamabad’s Lal Masjid. The controversial operation, codenamed Silence, was conducted on the orders of the then military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf.

The Supreme Court had appointed a commission under Justice Shahzado Sheikh of the Federal Shariat Court to inquire into the operation that had left 103 people dead. Subsequently, the commission had submitted its report on March 22, 2013, after recording testimonies of several witnesses.

The court, after examining the report on April 18, 2013, had allowed making the report public, while observing that “the remaining envelopes/documents of the report are… ordered to be kept under seal. However, the same shall be opened, on need to know basis, at the appropriate time.”

Recently, Shuhada Foundation, a body representing families of the victims of the Lal Masjid operation, filed an application in the apex court, requesting that the remaining envelopes and documents be opened in order to reach the truth and to be made part of evidence in a case against Musharraf.

The case is registered in the court of Islamabad’s additional sessions judge vide FIR No. 325/2013 on the complaint of Haroon Rashid for the murder of his father Ghazi Abdur Rashid – the former deputy cleric of the mosque – and his grandmother during the operation.

The applicant through his advocate, Tariq Asad, stated that the object of constituting the Lal Masjid commission was to probe into the incident and to uncover the truth as this is the most appropriate time to know about the information in the remaining envelopes/documents of the report.

Last week, the court had given the government one week to submit its reply regarding the sealed envelopes. The interior ministry, while submitting one-page response, told the apex court that this was not the appropriate time to open the envelopes as they contained sensitive information.

In 2013, the Lal Masjid commission report had held former president Musharraf, his prime minister Shaukat Aziz and his political allies responsible for the 2007 operation.

The commission had recommended that murder cases be registered against those responsible for the operation and suggested that the former rulers be forced to pay compensations to the aggrieved families.The commission had also recommended that the aggrieved families be given compensation in accordance with the Islamic laws.

It further recommended that the plot on which Jamia Hafsa, a seminary adjacent to the mosque, existed prior to the operation might be allotted to the seminary and authorities construct a new building at its old location.

It had also proposed that in the long term, the syllabus of seminaries might be broadened to include modern sciences; that madrassas be integrated into national system and be made open to certification under the independent national institutions.”


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Written by Hasnat Malik


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