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February 23, 2018

Is Lal Masjid linked to Lal Shahbaz shrine attack?


February 23, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Donning a white turban bespectacled Abdul Sattar Mazari, 25, was sitting before me, telling in Urdu, “I have nothing to do with terrorism, and I haven’t even visited Karachi, but the Sindh Police’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) has declared me a wanted terrorist in connection with the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Shrine attack. I condemn such attacks”. A suicide bombing took place at the shrine on February 16 last year killing almost 91 pilgrims. Initially, terrorist organisation Daesh had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Incidentally, Mazari, almost five feet tall, is connected with the Lal Mosque cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, as his mother is his cousin. “Our only sin is this that we are related to Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid; we have done no wrong, but still our family members are being picked up and the police are naming us in frivolous cases,” says Mazari.

Mazari and his five siblings were born in Rojhan Mazari, a tehsil of Rajanpur district in South Punjab. They were four brothers. The eldest Ghulam Mustafa, Abdur Razaq, Abdul Salam, M. Yaqub and a sister were the children of Muhammad Yusuf, a Pakistan Railway employee. He is now an agriculturist in Rajanpur after retirement. Ghulam Mustafa was killed in an encounter with the police in Mastung area of Balochistan in June 2017.

Abdul Sattar Mazari

Ghulam Mustafa, according to Abdul Sattar Mazari, was working in Karachi. He would often visit his hometown and tell the family that he was employed in Karachi. However, the family would not know exactly what he was doing.

“I know my bother, he cannot be a killer,” says Mazari who was not aware of the exact job of his brother. He also said his last meeting with Mustafa took place in 2013/14 when he came to the hometown. He strongly believes his brother was killed in a fake encounter.

“We believe he was initially arrested and later killed in a fake encounter,” says Mazari who works at a local madrassa and lives in Islamabad along with his wife and four children. According to media reports, the Sindh Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) claims it was Ghulam Mustafa who had played a key role in executing the suicide attack on the shrine along with Safi Ullah Mazari.

Incidentally, Safi Ullah Mazari is also a cousin of Abdul Sattar Mazari. Mazari claims Safi Ullah too was innocent but he was picked up and detained for almost three months. After getting himself cleared he was released in the same case but now his name is again being included in the case.

“We came to know through the media reports that we have been declared fugitive and wanted terrorists following the press conference of CTD Sindh. Mazari says his younger brother Muhammad Yaqub, a cleric at Amir Hamza Mosque, Islamabad was also picked up and had been under detention since August 22, 2017. He had recently taken admission in the Islamic university, Islamabad for further studies in Islam. “I don’t know why he has been picked up,” says Mazari.

Asked if he ever took any Jihad training or visited Afghanistan, Mazari denied the both. Showing a scar on his left leg, Mazari said he fractured his leg years ago after which a rod was planted in the leg.

“How can I run what to talk of getting a training? I never visited Sindh in my life what to talk of visiting Sehwan.”

He claims they are not anti-state elements and don’t support any kind of terrorism. To prove his point, he said his brother Abdur Razaq scarified his life for supporting police in Rajanpur.

“My brother was a key man who helped police in 2007 against the members of Chotoo gang in the area. Later the gang killed my brother near our home. “If we are scarifying our lives for the country how can we indulge in terrorism?” He says since they are innocent they will approach the relevant court of law to prove innocence. If Mazari‘s claims are true, then where does the CTD Sindh’s claim stand?

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