July 27, 2007

Red Mosque Redux (Update: Explosion Kills Several)

After radical Islamists seized hostages and holed up in the Red Mosque, Pakistan conducted a seige for days before finally raiding it, killing dozens. In the aftermath, the radicals staged violent protests and suicide attacks against Pervez Musharraf and his military. Now radicals have once again seized the mosque in an extortion attempt to get their comrades released:

Hundreds of students have occupied Pakistan's Red Mosque as it reopened for prayers, demanding the return of its arrested pro-Taleban cleric.

Security forces stood by as protesters raised a black flag, and clambered onto the roof of the Islamabad mosque to daub it with paint. ...

The students chanted slogans against President Pervez Musharraf and pushed journalists out of the building.

Musharraf has tried patching up the truce he had negotiated with radicals in Waziristan after the first Red Mosque standoff. This apparently is their answer. Despite having released most of the arrested radicals in the first standoff -- the government says that 567 of 620 captured had been freed already -- the radicals have come back to demand the release of the rest. If they start hostaging again, Musharraf will be right back where he started.

This puts a damper on the British support for Musharraf's appeasement policy in Waziristan. Not only did it fail to prevent the Taliban and al-Qaeda from gathering their strength in the Pakistani frontier, it has failed to keep their radicalism from the the rest of Pakistan, especially the capital. Less than a fortnight after seizing the mosque, the radicals have seized it right back from under Musharraf's nose.

Radical Islamists are not interested in appeasement. They're interested in domination. Appeasement, as we have seen in the past with other absolutist movements, does not result in generating respect, but only in forcing retreat for the opponents of absolutism. Musharraf looks to learn this lesson the hard way, and another Red Mosque bloodbath may be in the cards. How many of these can he withstand politically in Pakistan before radical and non-radical alike figure he's incapable of maintaining Pakistani stability?

UPDATE: This situation is rapidly deteriorating. An explosion has killed several people at the mosque, and it appears it came from the students holding the site:

An explosion has rocked Pakistan's Red Mosque after violent clashes between police and Islamist students, killing several people, officials say.

There were unconfirmed reports that the blast was a bomb aimed at police, and that at least one officer was killed.

Earlier police fired tear gas at stone-throwing students who had occupied the building in Islamabad.

Apparently the students couldn't wait to gather some local hostages first. Will Musharraf retake the mosque now, or wait for more violence first?


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Comments (5)

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | July 27, 2007 7:36 AM

How very disappointing. Musharraf has morphed into Charlie Brown and the Islamists are his Lucy. Unfortunately, this ain't football.

Posted by Clyde | July 27, 2007 7:44 AM

Pervy should blast the place to rubble, and then make the rubble dance. Voila! Problem solved. And I'm giving him this solution gratis -- I'm not even asking for a consulting fee!

Posted by Eg | July 27, 2007 11:13 AM

It shouldn't take to much guessing to determine who's behind this brilliant move: US senators move to block Pak military assistance

Musharraf's under the gun right-now, in fact he's hanging by thread, and everytime he takes his troops into al-Qaeda/Taliban territory they come back with a bloody-nose. But Islambad is only the tip of the iceberg. The problem being that throughout Pakistan the larger mosques and schools have already been radicalized; and like the Red Mosque - where large but unknown numbers of his Islamabad officers corps, field grade thru non-commissioned, attended the Mosque - there is also no telling how many enlisted personnel also attend the mosques but far more important, many have family members attending the madrassa’s. Now our Congress is telling him to take his army and attack the very places where his armed forces have family members in attendence?

Good luck with that.

Posted by FredRum | July 27, 2007 11:49 AM

What would you have Congress do, Eg? Encourage Musharraf to make more truces with Al-Qaeda and Taliban? We all know how well that worked out last time...

Posted by rbj | July 27, 2007 12:42 PM

Use this as an opportunity to kill more of the jihadists.