Basra encounter: a poorly staged drama
By Shamsul Islam Naz
FAISALABAD: Media-men and even some top ranking police officials were shocked when they received the news on government controlled television and radio about the killing of a most wanted and desperate criminal, Riaz Basra, in a police encounter in Mailsi near Multan, because there had been solid information and reports that he had been in police custody for the last five months.
The “encounter” was staged at Dakota in Mailsi, some 65 kilometres away from Multan, a place where the terrorists of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi allegedly murdered over a dozen persons in the past.
Giving details of the incident, a senior police officer of Multan claimed that four heavily armed outlaws came to Chak Kot Chaudhry Sher Muhammad Ghalvi, at about 3:15am in a Toyota Corolla (DGA-9520) and stopped near the house of Chaudhry Fida Hussain Ghalvi, the district chief of the banned Tehrik-i-Jaafria Pakistan. Being on the hit list of the Lashkar, the villagers used to keep vigil round the clock and were helped by the police at night. Ghalvi was on the rooftop when the alleged assailants arrived. When he questioned the purpose of their visit at that time, they came out of the car and opened fire. Villagers returned the fire and informed the area police. A police patrolling team rushed to the spot and during cross firing all the four terrorists died. Two of them had beards and the other two including Riaz Basra were clean-shaven. First of all, the superintendent of police Vehari reportedly identified one of the dead as Riaz Basra, saying that one of Riaz Basra’s accomplices who was under detention for alleged involvement in the killing of Siddiq Kanju had identified him.
In April, 1999, the Sargodha police had shot dead two persons - Shahzad Warraich and Azizur Rehman who were said to be close friends of Riaz Basra - in an encounter and claimed to have killed Riaz Basra due to his resemblance to Shahzad.
Similarly, the Punjab police claimed to have killed Riaz Basra six times. But the “drama” of Mailsi staged in early hours of May 14 this year was very close to reality as the person who was killed in the shootout was really believed to be Riaz Basra.
No doubt the credit of ending the mystery of Riaz Basra, the most wanted proclaimed offender who carried Rs5 million on his head, goes to Punjab police and more accurately to Faisalabad police, but the drama was directed very poorly by those behind the screen.
The real story started when the Faisalabad police arrested a terrorist Ajmal alias Sheikh Jamshaid of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi from somewhere. Ajmal, a close friend of Riaz Basra, was interrogated by special teams of police and a secret agency at local headquarters of the CIA in January this year, due to which another terrorist Liaqat Ali son of Sohnay Khan, resident of Karore Pacca, wanted by police in a triple murder case, was arrested. Two hand-grenades with live pins, a kalashnikov, and two pistols of 30 bore were seized from his possession. The ATC team continued the interrogation of the arrested terrorist and raided a number of locations in Faisalabad, Lahore, Jhang, Sargodha and some other parts of the country. The hectic efforts made by the interrogation team and information received from both the arrested terrorists led to the arrest of Riaz Basra.
Sources in the local police disclosed what they called the true story of the arrest of Riaz Basra, saying that after the arrest of two friends, Ajmal and Liaqat Ali, the police teams started tracking down Riaz Basra.
They learnt that Basra was residing in Chaman in Balochistan, due to extensive bombing in Afghanistan by the American forces.
“The entire matter was brought to the notice of high-ups of the interior ministry and a national secret agency asked permission to launch an operation in Chaman for capturing him. The team consisting of personnel of the Punjab and Balochistan police under supervision of the national secret agency conducted the operation in Chaman and arrested 16 persons from two hideouts. The arrested persons were immediately shifted to an investigation centre of the Punjab police at Lahore where one of them was identified as Riaz Basra. He was clean-shaven and wore shalwar-qameez,” sources disclosed.
Here comes the conflict between reports in the print media and the police claim as the police high-ups, including inspector general of police, Punjab, categorically denied the arrest of Riaz Basra when some leading newspapers published the stories in the second week of January this year. Reporters of newspapers claiming the arrest of Basra presented different proofs and information. But all their claims were rejected by the police.
During his first visit to Faisalabad, Governor Khalid Maqbool was briefed about the major achievements of the district police in an in-camera meeting at local circuit house on Jan 10, including the claim that Riaz Basra had been arrested. According to a report on the briefing: “Inspector Naveed Younis, incharge, anti-terrorist cell, headed by SP/CIA apprehended a terrorist Ajmal alias Sheikh Jamshaid of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi r/o Faisalabad, who was reportedly a close friend of Riaz Basra (sectarian P.O.). The terrorist with the technical assistance of ISI was interrogated. Resultantly, the accused Liaqat Ali s/o Sohnay Khan r/o Karore Pucca, an accused of a sectarian triple murder case of FIR No. 27/01 u/s 302 PS Gulberg, Faisalabad, was arrested. Two hand-grenades with live pins, one kalashnikov and two pistols 30- bore were recovered from his possession. The sequence of interrogation ultimately led to the arrest of Riaz Basra.”
This correspondent possesses a copy of the said briefing.
Riaz Basra was born in Chak Chah Thandiwala, Sargodha, in 1967. He was the youngest of four sons and two daughters born to Ghulam Muhammad and Jalal Bibi. His eldest brother is an employee of the Auqaf department in Lahore while the other family members are living in the hometown.
Riaz Basra got religious education from different deeni madressahs of Lahore and Sargodha and joined the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan in 1985, and played an active role in enrolment and fund raising for his organization in Lahore and other parts of the province. Riaz Basra also contested the 1988 general elections for a provincial assembly seat but lost. He, according to police, got arms training in Jihadi camps in Afghanistan and also took part in Jihad in Afghanistan where he sustained a bullet injury to his leg. He constituted a militant group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi after the name of his late chief commander, Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, who was assassinated. The members of his group allegedly started killing shia leaders and activists all over the country and became a terrorist organization.
The Lahore Police arrested Riaz Basra after his conviction by a court on charge of murdering Iranian counsel, Aqai Sadiq Ganji. He was produced before a court in Lahore during trial of a murder case of a central leader of Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Fiqa Jaafria, Syed Sikandar Shah. He escaped from police custody in May, 1994.
After his escape from police custody, he reportedly strengthened the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, and enrolled many extremists. This group gunned down hundreds of shia leaders and activists in 1996, 1997 and 1998 under direct command of Riaz Basra. Top ranking government officials and religious scholars of Fiqa Jaafria were target of the militant group. Riaz Basra allegedly himself killed the commissioner of Sargodha division, Syed Tajammal Abbas, in August, 1996.
There were strong indications and reports about Riaz Basra’s links with government agencies as Qari Abdul Hai alias Talha who was a close friend of Basra parted his ways over this issue and set up his own camp. Talha was of the view that Basra was playing in the hands of government agencies. But the arrest and killing of Riaz Basra in a staged encounter finished all hopes of exposing those responsible for keeping alive the sectarian conflict in the country.
Economic justice in Islam
By Dr Abdul Karim
THERE is a rapidly growing international concern for poverty alleviation and international financial institutions have launched special programmes. Even the IMF now has its Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRFG) which Pakistan has recently availed of.
It is universally recognized that mass poverty is more a result of inequitable distribution than of production which, in turn, is to be attributed to a whole host of factors, of which the most important are lack of opportunity as well as ability to participate in gainful employment and want of income creating assets. This boils down to economic injustice. Islam stands for justice in all walks of life. How does it deal with this crucial universal problem?
For this, one must turn to the very basic four attributes of Allah mentioned in the first chapter of the Quran, Sura Fatihah. They are to be reflected in all human arrangements, if they were to succeed. The first and foremost of these is His being the “Rab” of all the worlds, The word Rab is generally translated as the Lord. This is a superficial meaning of the word. Its real significance is indicated in other Quranic verses which read, “And say, ‘May Lord, have mercy on them even as they nourished me in may childhood (kama rabayyani saghira).” (17:25) “He (Pharaoh) said, ‘Did we not bring thee up (narubbeka) among us as a child?” (26:19).
The word Rab thus also means, “One who sustains and develops.” (Arab and Lisan) and “Feed, nourish, bring up.” (Steingass) The concept of Rabubyyat, therefore, extends to fostering a person, as much mentally as physically, enabling him or her to attain his or her potential and this has to be regardless of his or her own and parent’s station in life. Advancement in life should be driven soley by merit, pure and simple. In other words, it is to be ensured that no talent is lost for want of means or opportunity to develop fully for which all sorts of hindrances are to be effectively removed and means provided.
The sky has to be the limit for every one. A person cannot realise his full potential and avoid taking entrepreneurial risk, if he is all the time worried about not being able to meet basic needs in case the efforts fail for reasons beyond human control. “And there is no creature that moves in the earth but it is for Allah to provide it with sustenance.” (11:7) This puts the state, as vicegerent of Allah on earth, under obligation to arrange to provide for the basic needs of every citizen.
The ideal society, according to the Quran, would be free from such constraints. It says, “It is provided for thee that thou wilt not hunger therein, nor wilt thou be naked. And that thou wilt not thirst therein, nor wilt thou be exposed to the sun.” (20:119-120). The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “A son of Adam is entitled only to three things; a dwelling to live in, a garment to cover his nakedness and a piece of bread and water.”
Islam provides the safety net and this is a joint responsibility of the state and the individual. The Holy Prophet said, “A town in which a person spends a night on empty stomach, forfeits Allah’s protection.” This support has to be for all those who are temporarily or permanently unable to make on their own in spite of their earnest desire to do so. Health is an essential pre-requisite for making any kind of effort and should be treated as a basic need. Education has a crucial role in developing and realising the potential of an individual and as such must form an integral part of basic needs.
As to the means of fostering the potential of a person, the second basic attribute of Allah comes into play and that is Rehamaniyyat (Graciousness). This explains the process of human development. Through it, Allah provides the means without which it would be inconceivable and He provides them gratuitously that is without any effort whatsoever on man’s part. For this, one has to look at all life giving elements in nature, some of which are quite apparent in water, air, sky, earth, sun, moon, climates, etc. They are all inter-linked and operate in amazing harmony. It is beyond human beings to provide them in the first instance and no user charges are paid to Allah subsequently. In operational economic terms, it means political, legal, social and economic infra-structure necessary to support economic activity and a healthy environment.
The third basic attribute of Allah, Rehimiyyat (Mercy), operates in response to human effort to avail of His endowments. Not making full use of them in a way amounts to denial of His Wisdom to create them. Islam provides for every one but does not create a society of parasites. Every one must work up to one’s utmost. It is reminded in the Quran, “We have surely created man for hardship.” (90:5) “And that man will have nothing but what he strives for; And that his striving shall be seen; Then will he be rewarded for it with the fullest reward;” (53:40-2)
The Holy Prophet said, “The best you eat is that which you earn with your own hands.” Begging is discouraged except under a few specified extreme compulsions and there is a very severe punishment for stealing. There is little room for rentiers in Islam. This is one of the reasons for prohibition of interest in Islam, as in any other religion. For making full use of Allah’s bounties, which includes one’s own faculties, man is reminded in the Quran, “And He has subjected to you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth; all this is from Him. In that surely are Signs for a people who reflect.’ (45:14) “And We have established you in the earth and provided for you therein the means of subsistence. How little thanks you give!” (7:11) Islam has a very comprehensive code of conduct which puts it far ahead of any other religion. Allah, being the fosterer of all mankind and every one being equally dear to Him, has prescribed it most even-handedly. This was far ahead of time and is much superior to all man-made arrangements even in the most enlightened modern era which must suffer from inherent human limitations imposed by lack of complete knowledge and vested interests of those who frame them.
Allah has guided man how to conduct himself in economic matters. The business ethics of Islam is marked by honesty and fairness in dealings to ensure perfect competition in the market. In this approach, unnecessary risk is minimized. The main stress is on honest means of livings. It is quite obvious that none can be dirty rich through honest endeavour. It is generally by resorting to devious means that huge wealth is amassed.
Allah exhorts in the Quran, “And do not devour your wealth among yourselves through falsehood, and offer it not to the authorities that you may knowingly devour a part of the wealth of other people with injustice.” (2:189) This verse is generally taken to mean prohibition of bribery but, if broadly interpreted, should also include one’s clout to manipulate the system in one’s favour at others expense.
Acquisition of wealth is not to be an end in itself but only as a wherewithal to discharge one’s obligations to Allah, fellow beings and one’s ownself. In fact, it is a great trial, as the Quran puts it, “Do they think that by the wealth and children with which We help them, We hasten to do them good? Nay, but they understand not.” (23:56) “And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial and that it is Allah with Whom is a great reward.” (8:29)
As to hoarding of wealth, the Quran says, “And those who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah — give to them the tidings of a painful punishment.” (9:34) The holy Prophet said, “A person would be made to stand before Allah on the Day of Judgment and Allah would ask him what he did with wealth, servants and other bounties of Allah.”
Islam imposes additional burden on those who may become rich by honest hard labour. The right of the deprived and under-privileged to share in their wealth is recognized in the Quran, “And in their wealth was a share for one who asked for help and for one who could not.” (51:20) This is enforced effectively through compulsory levy of Zakat. The Quran says, “Who gave not the Zakat and they it is who deny the Hereafter.” (41:8) Zakat is supplemented by voluntary charity and this is expected of every Muslim, whether rich or poor, according to capacity. “Let him who has abundance of means spend out of his abundance and let him whose means of subsistence are strained spend out of what Allah has given him.
The basic aim of economic policies given by Islam is diffusion of wealth so that it does not circulate among the rich only. (59:8) Among other things, there is the elaborate Islamic system of inheritance, which works both ways and covers a large number of heirs of both genders. If properly implemented, coupled with Zakat, it would leave little of the inherited wealth beyond a couple of generations.
The fourth attribute of Allah as the Master of Day of Judgment lays down the guidelines for remuneration for effort. Allah says, “We suffer not the reward of those who do good works to be lost.” (18:31) “This is your reward, and your labour has been appreciated.” (76:23) “Then as for those who believed and did good works, He will give them their reward in full and will give them more out of His bounty.” (4:174) “That Allah may requite each soul for what it has wrought. Surely, Allah is swift at reckoning.” (14:52) Thus there should be nothing vague about remuneration and it must be paid in full and promptly.
In sum, Islam ensures economic justice by providing means and opportunity to every citizen to realise his or her full potential and rewards talent and exertion. It frees them from fears of failure, for reasons beyond human control, by providing for their genuine basic needs. At the same time, it closes all doors of ill gotten gains. Between the extremes of poverty and affluence, both eliminated by Islam, there is room for genuine functional economic inequality but to the extent and in a manner that it does not make the life of others difficult, if not miserable. The better off are placed under additional responsibilities. It is enough of incentive for economic justice that they will be accountable to Allah on the Day of Judgment as to how they acquired wealth and used it.