Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lal Masjid: The Death of Lt. Col Haroon ul Islam (SSG)

Lt. Col. Haroon ul Islam

" Lieutenant Colonel Haroon Islam was commissioned in Sindh Regiment in Pakistan Army in 1988. He joined Special Services Group in 1993. He has splendid military career. He was graduate of Command and Staff College Quetta and also recipient of Chief of Army Staff. Because of his meritorious services he had been awarded Chief of Army Staff Commendation Card. Presently he was commanding a Commando Battalion. The shaheed officer is survived by a widow and two daughters Zainab Haroon, 5 years and Memoona Haroon, 4 Years. "


I am having trouble accepting the story about him being involved in removing the women and children from the mosque. I don't think the Pak Army has been trying to break down walls to get people out, I think it has been more concerned with facilitating access to the mosque and with reducing defensive fortifications inside the complex. That has been the objective of the blasting.

My gut feeling is that his death was the result of a targetted assasination. In India in 90s the Jihadis used to routinely stalk and kill officers. This looks very much like that.

Lt. Col. Haroon comes from a military family and both of his brothers are still in the service of the Pakistani state in some capacity.

Curent estimates put the total death toll in the seige at 200 or so.

Added later:

Whatever positive publicity the government has managed to get in the last few days will vanish when the bodies of these dead victims head for home. I anticipate two rounds of rioting, the first that will occur when the Pakistani Army declares that it has cleared the mosque and a second round of more carefully planned rioting will follow when the funerals of the dead take place. The presence of a large number of non-combatants makes it impossible to hide the human cost of the operations.

In the meanwhile, more entertainment as the Pakistani Fauj attempts to divert the blame for the crisis, the former Khatib of Lal Masjid is apparently talking to the agencies:

"Reliable investigating sources told Online Maulana Abdul Aziz had revealed during interrogation that senator Talha Mehmood, his brother Zahid Bakhtawri, Pir Qaiser of Shaheen Chemist Rawalpindi used to provide funds to Lal Masjid on permanent basis. Regarding supply of ammunition, Maulana Abdul Aziz told one Jannat Gul , resident of Abbottabad had provided 15 kalashnikoves and bullets in large number. Sources told senator Talha Mehmood and his brother always remained on forefront in funding Lal Masjid. Traders community also provided funds amounting to million of rupees Lal Masjid on permanent basis. The investigating team has started collecting data of these people and they can be put to investigation within a few days as they have not determined this amount in their taxes. Maulana Abdul Aziz also revealed that as many as 50 petrol bombs were available in Lal Masjid. Petrol has already been stored in large quantity and the edibles are available in surplus quantity."

Here is a photo of Senator Talha Mahmood Aryan from the Pakistani Senate website.

Senator Mahmood is on the Standing Committee of the Interior

The senator had led a negotiating team to the masjid a few days before the assault began.

The blame game begins.

Incidently the media access to the area is being curtailed even further, presumable to remove the bodies without unnecessary footage. The bodies will probably be taken to the Sports complex.

Ofcourse Ejaz ul Haq has the names of eight terrorists who are holed up in the mosque. This is simply great, after they kill the 500 odd people remaining in the mosque, they will randomly name the 8 bodies there as belonging to these "wanted" terrorists, and presto Pakistan cannot be asked to "do more" to catch these people.

Incidently Maulana Fazlullah (yes the son in law of Soofi Mohammed of the TNSM) has started some entertainment in Malakand.

6 Comments:

At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
it's time to move on. Look at some very important development. Looks as if our strategic space has got squeezed further.
1)http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/jul/07guest.htm
2) USA-Russia deal on nuclear cooperation.
3) We will have to wait for the time when we can command political power. We have waited for 50 years we can wait for some more time.

 
At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
it is a double betrayal. Let us move beyod lal masjid. sorry to have diverted your attention.

 
At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

I feel that calling the deliberate targeting and killing of Indian flag officers in J&K by the jihadis as a "routine" occurance is an obscenely gross overstatement.

I do not know how many times the jihadis have tried and failed to do so but going by the number of times they have been successful, I would call it a rare occurance indeed.

The last time I remember it happening was when the jihadis targeted the GOC-in-C of the Northern Command (I think it was Hari Prasad) when he was visiting a camp. They ended up killing a brigadier instead. The only other recent incident that I can remember was when a RR battalion CO was killed while leading CI ops.

 
At 1:18 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

I don't know how many hits were successful, however I do recall hearing about a hit list with a price against each head in the 90s and a large number of flag officers were on it. I forget what the exact numbers were but they went up quite a bit as the rank did.

Usually the response to such an event acts as a deterrent to further actions by local hostiles but as the "mehmaan" mujaheddin were non-locals the normal responses were not particularly effective.

I speculate that the cash-for-kill scheme was created by ISI because the mehman could not be promoted inside the tanzeem, but some sort of "jangi inam" could be given in lieu of it.

Have you had a chance to visit the J&K theatre recently? I have heard things are improving quite a bit. I don't know what to make of the news reports anymore. I have not met a traveller from the area in a very long while too. Unfortunately work and family keep me bound to strictly chai-biscoot work only. The days of walking around aimlessly are gone.

 
At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

I also remember the cash-for-kill scheme with the cash prize determined by the rank of the officer killed and that there were standardized rates in this scheme: kill a Capt get Rs. A, kill a Maj get Rs B, kill a Lt Col get Rs C and so on and so forth. I also have no doubt that a lot of flag officers figured on jihadi hit lists.

However, the instances of flag officers actually dying in targeted jihadi hits were very few and far between.

Thats why I protest calling the killing of flag officers as routine. Attempts might have been routine but then that is hardly surprising, J&K is a combat theater after all! Attempts on all security forces personnel are routine. That sort of thing comes with the territory.

Calling the killing of flag officers as routine versus attempts at doing so as routine paints a very distorted picture and gives a very wrong impression of the situation on the ground.

And I haven't had a chance to visit J&K. I read a lot of books and newspapers* and keep a close tab on happenings that way but my chosen line of work too restricts me to a chai-biscoot style daily routine. Of course the disreputable forum's capacity to collate a lot of news reports in one single place is enormously helpful in doing this.

I too get the impression that the CI situation has improved markedly and the army seems pretty confident of its ability to keep the insurgency under control whilst simultaneously being able to maintain a credible force structure along the LOC and LAC.

* - Just to be crystal clear I do not belong to the ones-who-read-newspapers community as they are sometimes derisively called, if you know what I mean.

 
At 1:58 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Anonymous,

In light of your comments.

I have reviewed the text, the wording does appear to imply a high rate of success.

I accept your contention that this does not reflect the current reality in J&K.

I have reworded the post.

Thank you for pointing that out.

 

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