Top Court probes 2007 mosque raid

December 05, 2012 - 7:09:09 am

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top court yesterday appointed a judge to investigate an army assault on a radical mosque in the capital in 2007 that opened the floodgates on a Taliban uprising, a lawyer said.

Critics said the move was a further sign of the Supreme Court meddling in politics and warned it could fan tensions between the state and Islamists.

“Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed today that police have failed to satisfy the court and ordered a judicial commission to probe the matter,” Tariq Asad, a lawyer involved in the case, said.

Judge Shahzad Sheikh, from a federal sharia court, has been appointed to the one-man commission and police have been ordered to hand him all documents relating to the case, Asad added.

The army stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad on July 10, 2007. More than 100 people died during the operation and the army also demolished Jamia Hafsa, an adjacent girls’ seminary and hostel.

After the raid, Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked groups went on the rampage, bombing their way around the country killing thousands of people and the incident is still used by militants as a recruiting tool.

Military ruler Pervez Musharraf lost power in 2008, replaced by a civilian administration, but the war between the government and the Taliban has spread like wildfire across Pakistan’s tribal belt and northwest.

Political analyst Hasan Askari said it was unclear what the commission could achieve other than to provide militant groups with a forum and reprimand the then government, given that Musharraf is no longer in power or in Pakistan.

“It’s their desire to be populist, they know they’ll get support on this from the Islamists.”      afp