|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Lal Masjid standoff: A chronology
July 10, 2007 11:31 IST
A Chronology of events that led to the recent standoff between Pakistani government and militants in Islamabad's Lal Masjid.
March 27: Female students abduct three women they accuse of running a brothel, then later seize two policemen. All are released after women supposedly repent and are shown to the media warning burqas.
April 6: Mosque sets up Islamic "Shariah" court. Mosque chief Abdul Aziz pledges "thousands" of suicide attacks if the government tries to shut it down.
April 9: Shariah court passes fatwa against Pakistan Tourism Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar after she is pictured hugging a parachuting instructor.
April 10: Government says it has blocked the mosque's illegal website and radio station.
May 19: Students kidnap four policemen after the arrest of around a dozen mosque supporters. Two days later, students from a seminary linked to the Red Mosque kidnap another two policemen. All are eventually freed.
June 23: Dozens of students kidnap nine people, including six Chinese women and a Chinese man, from an acupuncture clinic, claiming it is a brothel. All are freed later.
July 3: Pakistani security forces trade gunfire with militant madrassa students in the heart of Islamabad leaving 10 persons dead and over 130 injured in a sudden flare-up of violence sparked by paramilitary deployment around the famous Lal Masjid.
July 4: Pakistan Government spurn attempts by radical clerics of the Lal Masjid in Islamabad to work out a negotiated settlement and ask them to surrender along with weapons as the number of persons dead in the stand off between security forces and militant mosque students climb to 21.
July 5: As the Pakistan military scale up its offensive on the Lal Masjid through selective bombardment using helicopter gunships to flush out holed up militants, Deputy Administrator of the mosque Abdul Rashid Ghazi offers to surrender unconditionally along with his associates.
July 6: Intense gun battles followed by heavy explosions erupts between militants holed up inside the Lal Masjid and security forces surrounding it as the leading cleric of the mosque reversed his offer for conditional surrender on the fourth day of the standoff.
July 7: In a blunt warning to hundreds of radical students and militants holed up in the Lal Masjid, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [Images] says that they must surrender failing which they would all be killed.
July 8: Fifty hardcore militants among the several hundred holed up in the Lal Masjid put on suicide jackets and gear up to resist any raid on the complex amid reports that President Pervez Musharraf has given a go ahead for troops to storm the facility to end the six-day long standoff.
July 9: Pakistan government holds last-ditch talks with a radical cleric and hundreds of militants holed up in Lal Masjid here but there were little indications of a breakthrough to end the weeklong standoff.July 10: Pakistan launches a full fledged military operation to flush out hundreds of militants holed up in Lal Masjid after final round of talks for a peaceful solution to the week-long stand-off fails.