Pakistani women commandos to end seminary standoff?
Apr 15, 2007 - 12:25:09 PM

Islamabad/Washington, April 15 - Pakistani authorities are contemplating deploying women commandos to deal with burqa-clad girl students who have taken control of a library in an Islamic seminary, sparking a standoff.

Strategic Foresight -, a Texas-based intelligence service, stated this quoting 'sources in the region', DesPardes website reported.

While Pakistani officials are continuing their efforts to resolve the matter through negotiations at two madrassas affiliated to Lal Masjid in Islamabad, authorities are preparing contingency plans in case talks fail, the report added.

President Pervez Musharraf told CBS TV channel said it was not because of weakness that the government had not so far moved against the two seminaries.

He told a parade at the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul that the government would think carefully about use of force against extremists.

'We will be rational before using might, as we will have to face our own brothers and sisters.'

The country was passing through 'a critical stage and the biggest threat it is facing is internal extremism and sectarianism', Musharraf said.

Meanwhile, the Lal Masjid administration Saturday refused to set any time frame for talks, demanding that the government first start rebuilding seven mosques that were demolished in January.

An aide to ruling Pakistan Muslim League - president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain phoned the deputy cleric of Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi, on Saturday evening. 'I made it clear to them that first Shujaat should abide by his commitment and then we would discuss the matter,' Ghazi told Daily Times.

'Shujaat had agreed that first the seven demolished mosques should be reconstructed and the government would take visible actions for enforcement of Sharia,' he added. 'Now the ball is in the government's court.'

The standoff has hit international headlines, generating renewed concern about the role of the religious bodies and seminaries that the West sees as the principal source of religious extremism and terrorism exported to Afghanistan and elsewhere.

But the government's efforts have paid off in another quarter.

Chief of the Deoband madrassa board, Wafaqul Madaris Al Arbia Pakistan, which controls 10,000 seminaries across the country with 1.6 million students, distanced itself from the Jamia Hafsa that is spearheading the girl students' action.

It announced Saturday that it disapproved of the methods adopted by the Jamia Hafsa, especially the siege of the children's library, saying taking law into their own hands was not acceptable.

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