General Pasha’s extraordinary disclosure concerning 2010 twin- attack on Ahmadiyya mosques in Lahore
On May 28, 2010 anti-Ahmadi terrorists carried out a simultaneous attack on worshippers in two Ahmadiyya mosques in Lahore. Eighty-six Ahmadis and one Christian worker were killed. Although the available accounts provided many answers with regard to the perpetrators and their mentors, an authoritative inside evidence was lacking. It became available this year.
Lt. General Shuja Pasha, former Director General ISI spoke candidly on many issues when he appeared before the Abbotabad Commission. He spilled many beans and named VIPs whom the well-informed general held responsible for most that had gone wrong with the country. He also made brief but highly revealing and even disturbing statement on the event of the massacre of Ahmadi worshippers in two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore. His remarks on this issue are in para 497 of the Commission’s report made public by Aljazeera TV; these are reproduced below:
“497 – The DG said the ISI knew that HVTs had been caught in towns and cities. In Karachi there were “no go” areas where the ISI knew foreign miscreants lived. But the police dared not venture there. The situation was increasingly becoming true of Lahore and other cities. In Lahore the police protected those who attacked the Qadianis last year (2010) and even directed them to the hospital where the wounded were being treated. The provincial government had been informed of the situation but it took no heed of the advice and information provided by the ISI. No guards were assigned to the hospital as venal political influence intervened everywhere.”
It would be recalled that in a meticulously planned attack, sectarian terrorists slaughtered Ahmadi worshippers who had assembled for the Friday prayers in two major Ahmadiyya mosques in Garhi Shahu and Model Town of Lahore. The initial absence of any adequate police presence and deliberately delayed intervention by the fresh arrivals enabled the terrorists to succeed in their gory operation, as planned. According to the final count based on burial statistics, 86 worshippers died. One hundred and twenty four were injured.
One Christian, who worked at the Ahmadiyya complex in Garhi Shahu, was also killed in the attack.
A report of the above incident, in essential detail, is available in Chapter 2A of the Annual Report for year 2010 on website www.persecutionofahmadis.org. We have referred to this meticulous source Report while making the following observations on General Pasha’s disclosures that now explain unanswered questions or confirm what was surmised.
General Pasha has mentioned that the police “protected” the terrorists, even collaborated with them and “directed them to the hospital”; the Punjab provincial government were pre-informed and “the venal political influence intervened everywhere”. This says a lot. It reveals criminal co-operation among the terrorists, the police and the politicians. This could not be but at the top level to get implemented so meticulously and successfully to the lowest level. We mention below some of the aspects of this event reported soon after the fateful day, to show how the details get explained by the expose´offered by the clued-up general.
The attackers entered the Model Town mosque with no resistance whatsoever from the policemen on duty. Once inside, they indulged in the killing spree. Eventually both the attackers were overpowered by a few Ahmadis. The whole drama took nearly 40 minutes to end. The Elite Force, that arrived eventually, entered the mosque when it was prudent and safe to do so.
One of the captured terrorists was injured during the action. He was delivered to the police who took him to hospital. They handed him over to the hospital staff along with the other injured worshippers without informing them that he was the terrorist. It was many hours later that an injured Ahmadi noticed him and informed the doctors of his identity; only then he was isolated. General Pasha’s statement explains, then a mystery, this compassionate handling by the police.
At Garhi Shahu the attack commenced at 13:40. The police that arrived in due course in numbers, waited outside and eventually entered the mosque at 16:10. As such the terrorists had two and half hours to finish the job in hand availing this liberal allowance from the law-enforcers. This delay blocked any rescue and evacuation effort, which resulted in the death of many injured due to excessive loss of blood. In the editorial on May 29, 2010, the daily Dawn posed the question: If the television crews can reach the scene of an attack before police reinforcement what does that say about the administration’s state of preparedness?
Ismail Khan, in his column in the daily Dawn of May 30, 2010 made a penetrating and apt observation: “Dozens of policemen armed with semi automatic weapons and guns were seen rushed to the scenes of the blood bath. They were seen huddled together either behind a wall or some other cover, without firing a single bullet. And then to cap it all the celebratory gunfire by the Lahore police, which has now become their hall mark, every time they finish their job. What was there to celebrate? The death of seventy-nine people???”
Here, it will be of interest to recall the role of the official TV channel. The 2010 annual report mentioned: A TV Commentator expressed the view that the police intervention was very successful and the arrangements in hospitals were excellent. He was perhaps unaware that in some hospitals mortuaries ran short of space to place the dead bodies, so these could not be unloaded from ambulances, and the authorities urged the relatives to take them away for burial. The commentator was also ignorant of the fact that the provincial Secretary of Interior (who obviously was not on board) had strongly criticized the performance of the law-enforcing agencies. (The daily Jang; Lahore, May 29, 2010)
Who were the terrorists whom the politicians and the police supported?
During the killing spree in the Garhi Shahu mosque the terrorists occasionally raised the slogan Khatme Nabuwwat – ZindahBaad (Long live – End of prophethood).
According to ANI, a spokesman of Tehrik Taliban Pakistan said on May 30, 2010: On the whole, we do like to encourage the nation for increasing such activities, like target-killings of Qadianis, Shias, the political parties that support them, as well as law-enforcing agencies, the Pakistan Army and other racist parties. (9pk1 –May30, 2010; Asian News International)
It was then confirmed that the terrorists had stayed for days in Raiwind at a location from where groups make sorties for Tabligh (preaching); their handlers took them from there to the targeted locations. Raiwind is the place where Sharif brothers have a fabulous out-house.
PPP leaders in Lahore stated: “Recent events (at Lahore) are the works of Tehrik Taliban who are in collaboration with Lashkare Jhangvi, Jaish Muhammad and Sipah Sahabah.”(The daily Aman; Faisalabad, June 5, 2010)
According to a report, a few days later, on the Pakistani TV channel Geo News, subsequent to the disclosure made by the two captured terrorists to the intelligence agencies, authorities recovered large amount of weapons and ammunition in the Punjab (Ferozwala). The seized goods included two truck-loads of explosives, 100 grenades, 15 anti-aircraft guns, 10 drums of chemicals, 30 missiles, 15 mines, 16 walky-talky sets, 24 klashinkof automatic rifles and thousands of bullets. The terrorists who disclosed this were Imran and Bilal.
Let’s turn to the most important aspect: the political.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon strongly condemned the attacks. He said that for a long time Ahmadis had been exposed to the risk of violence and discrimination.
While addressing a press conference, MsHinaJilani Advocate, a human rights leader demanded an immediate and independent enquiry as to why adequate security arrangements were not made subsequent to warnings from intelligence agencies. An Inquiry Committee that was routinely appointed by the provincial authorities was influenced by the powers-that-be to become ineffectual: so there was no inquiry, no report.
The provincial chief minister, Mr. Shahbaz Sharif did not consider it necessary to visit the Ahmadiyya centre in Lahore, after the tragedy, although the governor Mr. Taseer visited the Ahmadiyya center and Mr. Rehman Malik the Federal Interior Minister visited the injured in a hospital. Mr. IA Rehman of the HRCP commented in his column in the Dawn of June 3, 2010: “That the higher authorities could not muster the courage to visit the hospital and console the injured, points to the root of discrimination and prejudice against the Ahmadis.”
Dr Hasan AskariRizvi was more specific in the Friday Times of June 2010: “What helps sustain terrorist groups in the political profile of Punjab that is marked by religious conservatism and a strong right-wing orientation. The PML-N that rules the Punjab avoids a categorical criticism of militancy, hoping to protect its right-wing/Islamist electoral support.”
More recently, on July 2, 2013 the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in its Immediate Release observed:
“… Nongovernmental organizations also recently reported several drive-by shootings targeting Ahmadis. The Hindu Community continues to suffer discrimination and the threat of forced conversions to Islam. The Punjab government has not taken effective measures against those who attacked the Christian community in Jacob Colony in March 2013.”
ArifNizami, the editor of Pakistan Today did not miss General Pasha’s disclosure in the Abbotabad Commission Report and bluntly observed in its issue of July 13, 2013: “The recent terrorist incident in a Lahore food street after an interregnum of three years is a rude awakening that the PML-N provincial government’s ‘ceasefire’ with the militants no longer holds. In this context Shahbaz Sharif must come out clean on the charge leveled by Pasha before the Commission that the Lahore police protected those who attacked Qadianis in 2010.”
Last, but not least, following ‘terminal questions’ were posed, inter alia, in the Ahmadiyya Annual report on persecution in 2010; the answers to these have been provided by General Pasha’s statement:
- The authorities in Lahore had been informed by the federal government, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Ahmadiyya community that the community was under threat of attack. Why did they fail to attend to these warnings, and took no special measures to beef up the security in the two mosques?
- Why did the administration and the police insist that Ahmadi guards on security duty at the mosques should not carry arms, while all over the province the authorities recommend and require mosque administrations to arrange armed guards?
- Once the terrorist attack had begun why there was no adequate and effective police response to the terrorist action despite the availability at hand of the Elite Force and the special police force (QRF)? At the Lahore garrison there are plenty of army troops and rangers, always at hand to assist the civil authorities; their assistance was not requested – why? The available APC at the scene was used ineffectively. The police moved in when the terrorists had achieved their object. At whose direction the intervention was delayed?
- Who ordered and why that Ahmadis wounded, who still needed competent medical care, be discharged forthwith from the state-owned hospital?
- A high level Inquiry Committee was formed by the Punjab government to look into the tragic incident. What happened to it and where are its proceedings and findings? The Committee has not asked for the Ahmadiyya community’s views or comments.
- The provincial chief minister decided not to make a sympathy visit to the Ahmadiyya community, nor had a look at the sites, nor went to the hospital to enquire after the wounded. What kept him from these minimal official, political and social norms?