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After Lal Masjid

What does the Lal Masjid mosque siege tell us about the growth of extremism in Pakistan?

By Pervez Hoodbhoy   July 2007

The storming of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid mosque is over. The stench of decomposed bodies fills the air in and around the mosque. Bullet-pocked and blood-stained walls speak of ferocious battles between the Islamic militants holed up inside and Pakistan army commandos. The official casualty count is 107, but many say that the real toll is much higher.

Religious radicalism has made its debut in the heart of the nation’s capital. Nevertheless, many Pakistani political commentators have trivialised Lal Masjid. For them, the comic sight of the bearded Maulana Abdul Aziz, leader of the mosque, fleeing in a burkha proved that…

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