NDTV : Lal Masjid: Search on for the missing

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lal Masjid: Search on for the missing

Yusra Askari | July 20, 2007

(Islamabad) -- It's been a week since the bloodshed at the Lal Masjid. Yet the desperate search continues for hundreds of students, who surrendered in the midst of the standoff, but have not been heard of since then.

''My child Shafiq Ahmed surrendered on Wednesday. He called us up at home to say that he is being taken to the Aadiyala prison. After that we have not heard from him at all,'' said Abdul Ghani, Ahmed's father.

According to estimates, 150 children, mainly girls, have gone missing.

The NGOs, who are receiving surrendered students, say they can only work on the basis of information given to them by the government.

''We prepare a list of all the missing children who come to us and our information desk helps them out.

''There are representatives of the AC and DC who help in handing over these children to their parents,'' said a volunteer of the Khubaib Foundation.

Innocent victims

Many blame radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi for refusing to stand down and give innocent children a safe passage.

''These children come from poor homes; where there is no television and not even enough to eat. These innocent children are brainwashed here and used for all purposes,'' he said.

Operation Silence may well have ended but still unknown are the whereabouts of many madrassa children. As the search for them continues, questions regarding their fate still remain unanswered.