Last night I was up till 5 am witnessing what seemed to be an overly exaggerated civil war between the government of Pakistan and some Mullahs (representing the Jamia Hafsa) who had taken up camp in a mosque (Lal Masjid) that was built on illegal territory in the city of Islamabad.

Now the government has been threatening to have the mosque evacuated and razed for months now, but the Mullahs just don’t listen. They are ignorant, headstrong and proud of their inability to reason. Not to be harsh here, i’m not against religion. I am Muslim myself, but religion should definetely be separate from the State.

However, the question raised in this instance is not of the relationship between religion and running the country’s affairs. It’s about squatters. What gives these people the right to occupy a plot of land (without paying for it), construct a mosque on it and then go about conducting their business? It’s not their property and the government is dead right in trying to force them off the land.

Most people don’t agree with violence, but they should keep in mind that this is indeed the last resort. Peaceful negotiations had been attempted, but talks broke down every time owing to the unwillingness of the Mullahs to concede even a grain of sand. Officials have claimed on many occassions that it is impossible to deal with such people who base their arguments on religious texts rather than reason.

Which brings us to the topic of religious texts. The Quran is a marvellous book; I completely respect it and believe in every single word, but what I do NOT respect, is the immense power these Mullahs yield. With their charisma and colossal influence, they can literally brainwash any of their disciples into believing what they want. So if the Quran says “If the infidels attempt to wipe you out, perform Jihad in the way of Allah” (which is nothing more than a statement advocating self-defence. Nobody should have a problem with that!), the Mullahs will eliminate the first part and simply urge their disciples to “perform Jihad in the way of Allah”. And what exactly is Jihad? That too is left to the Mullahs to decide. They use their uncontested authority to feed to their disciples’ brains, the notion that Jihad equals needless fighting against anyone who so much as speaks a word against their (the Mullahs’) ideals, and it should be conducted whenever possible, because it is the shortest path to heaven.

People who take orders from others and simply fail to use their brains can never reach heaven. Those who understand the true meaning of Jihad (i.e. purification of the soul), and apply it to THEMSELVES instead of waging war with the world, will enter heaven. If everyone manages to understand this concept, there will be no more wars. Jihad advocates peace and democracy and only orders you to strike down those who disturb the delicate balance of peace, who in this case seem to be the Mullahs.

So now we have a mosque, chock full of pot-bellied Mullahs and countless disciples/students who the Mullahs are using to further their cause. Now the Mullahs are perfectly aware that they can do nothing to counter an army operation, especially if they are holed up in a tiny building with minimal rations and a few weapons. So why do they not give up? Why can’t they save dozens of lives by laying down their arms, agreeing to their illegal occupation of the land, and then moving off the territory. Then the government can allocate some other area for them to reside in.

Doesn’t sound too bad does it? But the Mullahs have 2 reasons to stick with the building. Firstly, they claim they are waging a holy war. They make statements such as “God will see this war through” and “God knows best” when asked by journalists what they expect the conclusion of the military operation to be or how long they think they can survive under siege. The fighting is needless. Yesterday, the gunbattles left 10 dead and 150 wounded, while the Mullahs torched several government buildings in the capital. If they think they can replicate Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) military success here, they are wrong. Every time Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) fought, he had a reason for doing so. And none of those reasons were as trivial or baseless as refusing to let go of an illegally occupied territory.

GEO Television Channel reported that not only does the mosque house several students, it is also home to numerous Madrassah girls who came to the mosque to study religious material, but ended up getting caught in this turmoil. Now the Mullahs don’t care if they suffer, if their families suffer, or if the masses suffer. All they care about is their reluctancy to let go of their headstrong claims.

As of late, the 2nd-in-command of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) administration was heard saying that they are ready to give their lives for this cause, and if this confrontation helps usher in an Islamic regime at some point in the future, they will consider their duty to the public fulfilled. I laugh at their naivety. (The 2nd-in-command makes all statements on behalf of the Lal Masjid Administration’s head, who refuses to make public appearances, claiming TV is Haraam or Unlawful).

The 2nd reason for the Mullah’s stubborness is (and I agree with them on this one) the government’s past record on keeping promises. The Musharraf-led regime is notorious. Musharraf himself is a dictator with a puppet National Assembly. And everyone knows how unreliable he is. So the Mullahs have good reason to fear that they might still be blown away even if they reach a handsome deal in negotiations.

So what i see now is a severe military operation that most probably culminates in 50+ deaths, 250+ injuries and is then followed by mass rioting over the country. The Masjid will be lost, but the insurgents will gain new battlegrounds all over the nation.

At the moment, Islamabad is under curfew, the city is full of light, mostly from burning buildings and cars. People wearing gas masks roam the streets and shoot at (and are shot at by) people in military garb. This sort of scene is relatively new for Islamabad, a city that endured much peace, while the residents of Karachi were forced to go through mass riots, bloody clashes and great fires during the past few months.

Pakistan is in a very sorry state and, in the words of Ardeshir Cowasjee, “This Country is Doomed, yaar!”.

Fighting terrorism, you say? Terrorism, my friends, is not a man with bombs strapped to his torso, running helter-skelter towards an airport lounge heaving with innocent bystanders. Terrorism is the direct product of a lack of education, something the government has overlooked for far too long.