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Why Pak's shrewdest politician is being hunted

Last updated on: April 4, 2011 15:17 IST

Why Pak's shrewdest politician is being hunted

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Tahir Ali in Islamabad

Jamiat Ulema e Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, once considered as the patron of Taliban chief Mullah Omer, is today struggling to save his life in Pakistan, as Taliban and Al Qaeda members are chasing him like shadow.

In the last week of March -- within a short span of 24 hours -- he was attacked twice in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, but he was lucky to survive. The attacks took place in Swabi and Charsadda localities.

Rehman, considered one of the shrewdest politicians in Pakistan, was considered to be the mentor of Mullah Omer when the latter was ruling Afghanistan with an iron fist.

While some seminarians see him as a man of religion, many other call him 'an opportunist' who misuses Islam for his political gains. 

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Image: Jamiat Ulema e Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman

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Why Taliban gave him a free hand initially

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Despite being a Leader of Opposition in the lower chamber, he supported then President Pervez Musharraf's policies and let his government complete five years for the first time in the history of Pakistan.

However, his political vision remained near and dear to the Taliban.

It was the Fazlur Rehman, who brokered a peace deal between Taliban and the Pakistani government in September 2006 in North Waziristan. The peace agreement was severely criticised by the West and Afghanistan.

Even though a majority of Taliban leaders did not like Fazlur Rehman's politics, but considering that he shared the same Deobandi school of thought that they followed, they gave him a free hand.



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Things started going wrong in 2009

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According to Taliban sources, the situation turned worse for Fazlur Rehman last year after he made an agreement with the Saudi Royal family to help arrest some Arab militants who were behind the attack on Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in August 2009.

Talking to rediff.com, a militant who did not want to be identified, said: "Fazlur Rehman brokered a deal with the royal family of Saudi Arabia and pledged to help arrest the wanted Arabs through militants loyal to him in the tribal belt. But the Taliban got wind of it and before Rehman's men did anything, the Arab militants were alerted."

After Fazlur Rehman's deal was exposed, he was warned to quit all form of politics, as he had maligned Islam through his dirty game.

"At the early stage, Taliban asked him leaving all form of politics; but some of his political workers convinced the Taliban to forgive the Maulana and promised that he would never do such an act again. As a test case Taliban asked that the Maulana to part ways with the Gilani government and thus JUI withdrew from the cabinet."



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'No one would take responsibility'

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In December 2010, Fazlur Rehman pulled out his two ministers from the federal cabinet, but continued as the chairman of the Kashmir committee.

However, before the dust settled, the JUI leader once again did something that angered the Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

"The Taliban noticed his 'doubtful' activities once again and this time decided to give him exemplary punishment. He has survived the two attacks but the Taliban are in no mood to spare him. No one would take responsibility, as he has some influence among the Taliban ranks," the source told rediff.com.



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