Pak SC sets up panel to probe 2007 Lal Masjid assault

In a move that could pit it against the powerful army, Pakistan's Supreme Court Tuesday formed a judicial commission to probe the 2007 military operation against extremists who were holed up in the radical Lal Masjid here.

Shahzado Shaikh, a senior judge of the Federal Shariah Court, was appointed by the apex court to conduct the probe and submit a report within 45 days.

The order was issued while a bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was hearing a case related to the military operation against the Lal Masjid in July 2007.

The judicial commission was asked to ascertain the circumstances that led to the operation and find out how many civilians, law enforcement personnel and women were killed in the action.

It was also asked to ascertain how many bodies were identified and whether compensation was paid to the families of those killed.

Additional Inspector-General of Police Tahir Alam presented a report on the operation but the Chief Justice observed that security agencies had not been able to prove that those killed by the security forces were extremists.

The police report said a total of 103 people were killed in the operation. The bench further noted that several petitioners had claimed young girls were killed in the operation. Then President Musharraf had ordered a military operation against Lal Masjid on July 3, 2007 after extremist elements holed up in the mosque began challenging the writ of the government.

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