Pak daily urges 'Bluestar' type action at Lal Masjid
An influential Pakistani newspaper has called for "unsavoury action in the larger interest of the nation-state" at Lal Masjid, reminding the Pakistan Government of what Saudi Arabia did at Ka'aba in 1979 and India at the Golden Temple in 1984.
"In 1979, the Saudi government had to take just such a decision when some extremist elements took over the Ka'aba. In 1984, the Indian government decided to storm the Golden Temple because such an action, despite the dangers inherent in doing so, had become inevitable and absolutely necessary," English language Daily Times said on Wednesday.
"There are times when governments have to take unsavoury decisions in the larger interest of the nation-state . The government in Islamabad too cannot avoid taking the difficult decision now," The newspaper, edited by veteran journalist Najam Sethi, said in an editorial.
"Now the die is cast and it must not shy away from its responsibility," it cautioned.
The Saudi Arabian Government had sent in troops to evict militants holed up at the holy shrine of Ka'aba in Mecca in 1979.
The Indian Army entered the Golden Temple, Sikhism's most revered shrine in June 1984. Scores of soldiers died, as also Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale and a large number of militants who had been holed up for months in the fortified complex.
The Daily Times warned that "Mr Ghazi (Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi) will try to use the media in his support and he will use "Islam" to justify his actions but that should not deter the government from taking action which is now absolutely necessary."
"The media also has a role to play. It has been calling for action and insisting that the writ of the state should be enforced in this case," the newspaper reminded.
Taking an unequivocal stand on the issue, the editorial said: "What has already happened should make it very clear that half-hearted measures are more dangerous than inaction. But the very fact that the first stone has now been cast, there is no going back to the earlier state of inaction."
The Nation, another English language newspaper, called the Tuesday shootout "a snafu" caused by the government's approach that was "far from ideal."
Severely criticising the government's handling, it said: "If Tuesday's snafu was the result of all that planning, this government is far more incompetent than previously thought."
"In a well-planned crackdown, the perimeter of the theatre of action would have been secured from all vantage points, containing in all of the students. Had this been done, further tumult, like the arson and ransacking the students did outside the seminary, would have been prevented.
Furthermore, all efforts should have been made to minimise civilian casualties by redirecting traffic and cordoning the area. It is evident that any crackdown was bound to get messy. The way the government handled it, however, was far from ideal," said The Nation in its editorial.