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Revered – but for what?


Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province which can overwhelm many of us with its vastness is still an enigma to most Pakistanis. The province is an hour’s drive from where I live in Karachi. For the longest time, I had been planning to go to Gwadar, in Balochistan, which is several hours’ drive away from Karachi. The plan materialised just last month as I ventured into the region along with friends, camera in hand. On our way to Gwadar, we stopped at Ormara, a port city located on the Makran coast. It was in Ormara where I came across – and hurriedly photographed – the Shaheed Aimal Kansi Masjid named after a Quetta-born Pakistani man who in 1993 shot and killed two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employees near the entrance of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Kasi then fled to Pakistan and was later handed over to US authorities in what many suggest a most treacherous manner. He was captured from Dera Ghazi Khan in 1997 and his arrest was reportedly facilitated by Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, a Pakistani politician and former friend of Kansi, during the government of Nawaz Sharif. Kansi, who was first charged in absentia in 1993, was executed by the United States authorities on November 14, 2002. His body was then repatriated to Pakistan.

The most unfortunate conclusions from this entire episode are that:

a) Aimal Kansi was no shaheed by any stretch of the imagination and yet the likes of Fazlur Rehman would have us believe otherwise.

b) Sometimes, terrorists are revered enough to have mosques named after them.

By Raja Islam

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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147 Responses to “Revered – but for what?”

  1. Saima Adnan says:

    The article should not be written and portrayed in that way.

  2. Kashif Haqqi says:

    Newton’s law “There is a reaction for every action.” I don’t know the backgrounds as there are so many stories. But the bottom basic and logical line for me is every one does something in reaction to an action unless and until they are all insane or this world is becoming insane!

    From the past stories I have heard Mr. Kansi was a very educated man (Correct yes/no), I have also heard that his family was helping the Agencies (Correct yes/no). I have heard that close family member was killed by these two agents (Correct yes/no). Finally he took revenge, got arrested and was trialled and executed (Correct yes/no). I don’t know if he was a martyr only God would know better, but if all is correct above he was definitely the one who leaded every one to take the wrong path.

    He was so educated that he could have taken his revenge (first of all revenge is not a very Islamic concept correct me if I am wrong), and could have taken those gentleman to court or could have appealed the country or no one was listening than should have waited for the right time. But I guess in his circumstance (and now this could be the other side of the picture) he was so cornered or hopeless or mislead or had no faith on the government and people around him that he went on his own like many of these suicide killers. I mean they say an eye for an eye in Islam but one needs to involve others in making a decision or taking an action as one could be completely bias.

    I guess we need to do a lot of clean up and work towards a green world otherwise we all know the answers, it common sense. We need to grow above with what we are born with and try to justify our being here for a positive reason.

  3. TJ says:

    There are sinners, who do a right thing and become what they were never to be.

  4. aftab says:

    I really feel disappointed to read opinions of those terming Aimal Kansi as Shaheed who has done no service to Muslims in general and Pakistan in particular.We Pakistanis are already undergoing the difficult phase in our small short period of history.I would request those who consider such people as shaheed to think beyond emotions and donot misguide other innocent people who may be influenced and take up the same course.Best service to this nation is to prove yourself positively so that we Pakistani feel proud of you.Please try to project islam in its true colour and save Pakistan from further embarrasment.

  5. wazdan says:

    Aimal kansi was realy shaheed as confronting the forces of evils is shahadat some people without knowledge & respect for his or her nation opposing the myrithesm of Muslim. the then gov has disgraced the nation.As pakhtoons take revenge sooner or later the baloch should do the act of revenge its their duty not the family but also it is the duty of all Balochs to find & punish conspirers, USA, according to law.hang also those who has cooperated in his capture.The man who bring him to hotel to get reward needs to be eliminated along with has family ( which is called MIRATA in PAKHTOONS code)

    • Ali says:

      I was in Virginia when this incident happened and used to read about it every day in Washington Post. I think we should stop eulogizing killers. This was not a terrorist act but he killed two innocent people and paid for it.

    • Shayan says:

      He was no hero by any stretch of the imagination. Words of hate like the one’s you speak are what got us into this situation in the first place. However the name of the mosque can be anything that those who built & the community around it want it to be, freedom of speech and expression for all not just those who preach hate and violence but freedom of expression for all Pakistani’s. The name of the mosque is a form of freedom to express as well. Let it be even if we don’t agree with the name it is known by today.

    • E says:

      In response to Mr. Wazdan… it is so sad and shameful that people have such thoughts in my country. Dont know why one would eliminate the whole family in revenge.. I recall we were taught in school that these acts were normal during the time of Jahilia.. I think few people are still living that time period. People with ideas are shame for humanity let alone the country and religion. I wish we get change this mindset. This will resolve majority of the hate issues in our country. This is the same group with racist ideology (pakhtoon, baloch, sindhi, muhajir, punjabi etc.) These are the people who are part of corruption, crimes and unlawful acts.. and they get away with it coz we praise their acts and so called medieval “codes”…
      Its time to wake up and be rational.. we are in worst situation then we were before partition… these people are termites who only knows destruction and the worst part is that they are among us and they look like us..

  6. We Pakistanis have been victim of groups found dubiously connected to networks that have apparent objectives of serving islam but actually menting money and playing with the lives of innocent simple people. We need to see the other, real picture of these groups and stop believeing that they had or will ever work for Islam and rating those killed as shaheed or saint absolutely outrageous. Even calling political leaders as shaheed and them criticizing them for thier deeds/ personal life is absoultely against the spirit of Islam and the stature of a shaheed. Interestingly its these ulema who would react to Potato Chips being ‘islamic’ or calling film ‘khuda key Liye’ agaisnt islam but have no time to rectify these misconcieved intrepretations as the breed on innocently, partially informed people.

  7. I tell you that this masjid looks like an old one & the name has been put up by taking over which we can witness easily that someone deleted the word Ya from Muhammed Sallalahu Allahe Wasalam.

  8. sajjad says:

    I remember his death day…most of Pakistanis at the day was mourn and blaming our government why they handed over him to America…I dont know what was the reason behind killing of CIA officials but he died like a shaheed…I remember the doctors who injected poison comment that he was normal and getting no tension.

  9. Rashid Saleem says:

    This is one man who was prosecuted and found guilty and today we name our holy places after such men. Can there be a bigger disappointment than this?

  10. Adil says:

    The court declared him a criminal both in the US and here when our govt. handed him over. You may not LIKE the CIA but that doesn’t automatically mean murder was justified. The blog is absolutely correct. Lot of the responses are usual conspiracy theory BS, CIA bogey man, honorable Taliban crap. Wake up smell the roses – 80% of the world thinks Pakistanis are terrorists (Try even applying for a visa to any Muslim country) – so why do Pakistani’s think they are this special chosen people who the whole world is out to get? No one trusts us, everyone is wary of us, ergo the problem is with the world and western media ? Wake up.

  11. OWAIS says:

    In my opinion, as one should know the cause of his murdering the agents, was the involvement of U.S & CIA in middle east & others Muslim nations. weather he can be called shaheed…… ALLAH knows better!!!
    but being a Pakistani and being a victim of U.S brutal policies!!!! I think he did the right thing!!!

  12. habib says:

    Just tells you what a sop we are for people!

  13. Hasan says:

    If a citizen of any country of the world, enters an official building in Pakistan and perpetrates a similar act. I would expect the state to go after him and hold him to justice.

  14. Pakistani says:

    Pakistan army is also dying for USA’s fight on terror if they are shaheed then Aimal Kansi can also be a shaheed.

    • Abdul Rehman says:

      No way, Pakistani Army is defending the country against the terrorists; they are in fact doing a favour to us and not USA!

  15. If America has all the rights to kill innocent civilians by drone attacks than Aimal Kasi also has the right to kill CIA activists. I cannot claim to call him Shaheed or a terrorist, lets leave this to ALLAH.

  16. adeelkunwar says:

    What a poor topic the blogger has chosen, also poorly written!

  17. Ahmed Khan says:

    It is a rather brief article. It is still not yet determined what were the reasons behind Aimal Kansi’s act in shooting CIA officials.

    Another thing worth mentioning is that if Benazir Bhutto can be a shaheed then anybody can be a shaheed.

  18. Syde Faisal Husain says:

    Very soon we might also see Saddam Shaheed Mosque. :)

  19. Afridi says:

    Shaheed is an easy term to fit the elite class murdered. But we usually use Jan-Bahak for the victims of terrorism, suicides and militancy. Killed, is used for the militants. though we know although can’t determine who is Shaheed. Shaheed are defined in Quran, people who scarifies their in Allah ways, or cause of religion and in the defense of an Islamic State. Though innocent people killed, people who died of diseases or natural disasters are also in the category of Shahadat….but the first type of Shahadat is high in the hierarchy. We can’t determine Aimal’s shahadat but we can look at the circumstances which lead him to his fate, and so goes for other people. Therefore we need to be careful in using these Religious terms, otherwise its unintended sacrilege from once’ side..

  20. If the soldiers, killing the Muslim for demanding implementation of Deen Allah is not a crime, and killed soldier fighting on behalf of a infidal is called Shaheed in deception, there seems to be nothing wrong to call him shaheed, and name a Masjid after him. He did fight the infidels and Died of their hand with the help of hypocrites. Shaheed literally means, the one who dies witnessing the truth or Allah subhan o tala. Comparatively, what did soldiers do to attain the status of a Shaheed. Subordinated himself to a infidel. Shahadat is always according to the truth or it is a crime. He does qualify to be called Shaheed.

  21. Anyone who is out there to kill a non-Muslim, and after the deed, is killed, is a shaheed. Joke of the new millennium. No matter how corrupt, how wicked he might be. I think a committee of some ulmas must be set up, or even a ministry, like so many already existing, to study and verify who died a shahheed’s death and who the otherwise. After all this is indeed the most pressing question and concern of the time, specially in the land of the pure, where everyone is just “dying” to be shaheed.

  22. Pashtunyar says:

    He revenged killing of his father by killing two CIA. This make him Shaheed. Why this blogger Raja Islam is not mentioning this fact in his blog, speaks of typical Pak mentality. If history has to judge the roles played by Awais Leghari, Nawaz Sharif or Pakistan, it will be that they submitted to empire & money, while Kasi died a honorable death. Distance between shame & honor is one step forward.

  23. “Terrorism is how the poor wage war. War is how the rich wage terrorism.”
    - Peter Ustinov

    You should have supported your article with more details – Its seems you don’t know anything. seriously!

  24. tony says:

    Both father and son were CIA informer, they were working against Baloch and Pakistani people.

  25. ali-ul hassan (lahore) says:

    In our society bad things become good and good things become bad. A.K was what ever but one has said that ‘one man’s terrorist is other man’s freedom fighter’.

  26. humayun nayab says:

    I think…..Shahid Masood Dr. should have an elaborated programme on Aimal Kansi. After reading this article I am really got interested to get to know him and his activities. A well research biography is needed….

  27. rz says:

    He got what he deserved. Good Riddance. The people here making a hero out of him, would likely jump at the first chance to go to USA or other western countries. Hypocrisy is rampant in Islamic societies. Thanks to the blogger for exposing his hero-makers in that small town.

  28. saleem khan says:

    Mr Kansi was a criminal,who committed acts of criminal terror here in the USA. Pakistanis as a nation have to wake up and grasp over realities. Why every international terror acts leads back to Pakistan?? I know that it is lack of education and false right wing media campaigns,which have disoriented uneducated masses in that country. some opportunists wish to gain in their dark,criminal motives by declaring him shaheed.

  29. whyisitrequired says:

    When the name of a city can be changed to the so called shaheed Benazir Bhutto city or Islamabad international airport can be renamed to Shaheed Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto int. airport. Expecting a mosque named after Kansi is not a big deal.

  30. Haider says:

    A criminal or shaheed?I think if there is any doubt which indeed there is, atleast people should be rational enough not to name a mosque. When will we start to think??

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