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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

World

Musharraf denies any role in Lal Masjid operation
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Islamabad, October 15, 2013
First Published: 13:23 IST(15/10/2013)
Last Updated: 13:26 IST(15/10/2013)

Pakistan's former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has denied ordering Lal Masjid operation in 2007, even as a fresh petition was filed in a court here seeking action against him under the blasphemy law.

A three-member joint investigation team (JIT), whose two members had earlier refused to be part of it, interrogated 70-year-old Musharraf yesterday at his Chak Shahzad farmhouse which has been declared a sub-jail.

He was interrogated in connection with a double-murder case registered by Aabpara police on a complaint of Haroon Rasheed, son of Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, deputy chief of Lal Masjid, who was killed in the 2007 operation at the mosque.

Haroon has alleged that Musharraf issued the order for the operation in which his father and grandmother Sabiha Khatoon were killed.

The former president told the JIT that the operation had been ordered by the then elected government and he had nothing to do with it, Dawn daily reported quoting sources.

"I was wrongly implicated. I did not issue any written order regarding the operation," Musharraf was quoted as saying by the sources.

He said the then capital administration had called the army for help which led to the operation. He also denied other allegations levelled against him in the FIR.

Over 100 people, including 10 army personnel and a Rangers man, were killed during the operation.

Meanwhile, a Pakistani lawyer has filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court seeking action against the former president under the controversial blasphemy law for allegedly desecrating religious books during the Lal Masjid operation.

In his petition, advocate Tariq Asad, who is the counsel for the newly-established Shuhada Foundation of Pakistan Trust, contended that Musharraf was responsible for launching the operation during which "not only a large number of civilians were killed but also copies of the holy Quran, religious books and research materials were destroyed."  

The petition said the objective of the operation was "not only to commit murders of religious scholars, preachers and teachers but also to destroy the mission of the preaching of Islam, which prima facie was tantamount to the commission of the offence of blasphemy."  

Senior lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri told Dawn that the Lal Masjid operation was a state action and it couldn't be challenged in any court.

He said blaming the former army chief for the operation and levelling blasphemy allegations against him would be fatal for the national security.

"These people are giving a wrong message to the army by harassing the former military chief," he claimed.

"If the court allows the trial of Musharraf on the basis of such frivolous petitions, tomorrow a number of petitions would also be filed against the incumbent army chief and even every second lieutenant for taking part in Swat and Waziristan operations as well," he was quoted as saying by the Dawn.


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