Musharraf ready to raid Lal Masjid but...
* Says govt will act if media doesn’t show bodies
By Iqbal Khattak: Daily Times, June 30, 2007
ISLAMABAD: President Musharraf said on Friday that the potential loss of human lives was preventing him from taking any action against the Lal Masjid, while adding that suicide bombers from Jaish-e-Mohammad were also hiding in the mosque.
“We are afraid of the baton-wielding madrassas who will stand by Lal Masjid if we launch action,” he said, while addressing the concluding ceremony of the National Media Workshop organised by the National Defence University. He said the female students of the Lal Masjid’s adjoining madrassa were “prepared for suicide attacks” and up to 500 children “were being used as human shields” to stop the government from contemplating any operation.
He said members of Jaish-e-Mohammad, a banned militant group linked to Al Qaeda, were also hiding in the mosque, adding that they were all capable of suicide attacks. “How can I take action?” he said. “Action is ready but will be taken at a right time.”
According to Aaj television, the President added that the government would take action against the Lal Masjid if the media guaranteed that it would not show any dead bodies in electronic or print media.
The president said any terrorist attack in the West would have “incalculable consequences” for the country. He appealed to the media to help make Pakistan into a moderate state. President Musharraf criticised the media’s coverage in Waziristan, arguing that they should be more concerned about the fact that terrorists were being killed, rather than caring about who was attacking them — referring to media criticism on foreign forcess’ involvement in attacks inside Pakistan. The president defended his changes to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulations Authority (PEMRA) Ordinance, admitting that the government was partly to blame for the media crisis.
Agencies add: President Musharraf said the government had evidence that foreign militants were planning attacks abroad from Pakistani soil. He said they had tried to resolve the Lal Masjid standoff through negotiations to avoid bloodshed. “I am not a coward...but the issue is tomorrow you will say what have you done. There are women and children inside.”