Friday, July 06, 2007

In Islamabad now

Great, I made it to Islamabad. Arrived here around 8 am, so had enough time today to roam around the G6 sector of the city, where the Pakistani Army is surrounding around 1000 militants (and a whole lot of children en women) in the Lal mashid, or Red Mosque. The area is entirely sealed off by the Army. No way to get unseen in or out of the mosque. Basically an area of 1.5 km by 1.5 km is made off limits by the Pak army. I did not see anybody surrendering, but at one point a civilian came out - he was shot in his toe. I mean, the Red mosque is located in the middle of a residential area. So outside the mosque there's a strange mix of soldiers, para-military forces and civilians who live there and can't leave. These civilians basically stay indoors. Between 12.30 and 15.30 there was a temporary relaxation of the curfew in the G6 area. This to give residents the possibility to buy some food and perform jumma prayer - the Friday prayer, which is the most important prayer of the whole week. I heard a couple of shots fired. Sometimes pretty close by. But the fighting was definitely not heavy on Friday, more very sporadic. Most people I talked to support the government and the army. Many civilians told me that they are sick and tired of the Taliban-style mullahs. The fact that one of the leaders of the Red mosque tried to escape in a burqa, so dressed up as a woman - doesn't help the militants inside to get more public support. Everybody was very much laughing about, what they now call, Mullah Burqa. "If he would have fought till the end - maybe some people would respect him," a man told me, "But now? Trying to escape, while all the others are inside. And dressed up as a woman. Very embarrassing."

More later, and pics too.

1 comment:

pina said...

hey there, I am happy u managed to get there relatively easily. The update is interesting. keep up the good work. Take care of urself.