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Home > News > Report

'Lal Masjid operation could have been avoided'

July 14, 2007 15:53 IST

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Head of the banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Mujahiddin Fazalur Rehman Khalil, who figured high in the list of wanted persons given by India to Pakistan, has said that the military operation on the Lal Masjid could have been avoided and that he feared a backlash against the Pakistan government following the bloody crackdown.

"The military operation in the mosque-madrassa complex has serious repercussions and it could have been avoided," Khalil, who was roped in to negotiate with slain radical cleric Abdul Rashid Gazi said even while admitting that the government negotiators have done their best to avert a showdown.

Khalil, once a close aide of Osama Bin Laden, who also figured high in the list of wanted persons given by India to Pakistan, was arrested and released by the Pakistani law enforcement agencies after the US State Department had banned his outfit in October 2001, media reports said.

He remained underground until July 10, when the government negotiators headed by ruling Pakistan Muslim League in a surprise move roped him to hold talks through the mobile phone with Ghazi for a last minute negations for their surrender.

Pakistan Religious Affairs Minister Ijazul Haq later explained to reporters that Khalil was roped in for the talks at the instance of Ghazi as the two knew each other well.

Some reports even said Khalil was also related to the cleric who was subsequently killed along with over 90 militants holed up in the complex. Eleven army commandos were killed and 44 others injured in the operation.

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