Fazl offered US to mediate with Taliban, reveals WikiLeaks

The News International

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman during his visit to New Delhi in 2007 made an indirect overture to the US embassy, offering his services as a mediator between the Bush Administration and the Taliban, Geo news reported quoting Indian newspaper.

On May 3, 2007, Assistant Political Counsellor Atul Keshap reported (cable 106645: secret) his meeting with Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Hind leader Mahmood Madani and Pandit NK Sharma, an astrologer-adviser to PV Narasimha Rao, who claims close ties to the Gandhi family. Madani told the US official that Fazl had a pressing issue he wanted to discuss with US officials, but he was only interested in holding these talks outside of Pakistan, says The Hindu.

He explained that Rahman could not speak freely in Pakistan, that he would say one thing in Pakistan and something else in India if asked.

Sharma gave his own reasons for the Maulana’s diffidence about approaching the Americans in Pakistan. The former US Ambassador to Pakistan was very close to Pervez Musharraf, and Rahman would jeopardise his position in the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) if it came out that he was speaking to the Americans.

Another reason given by Sharma was that India wanted to play a role in the negotiations, which it could not do inside Pakistan.

“Madani explained that Rahman was interested in acting as a go between for the United States, to negotiate with the Taliban in order to bring them into the mainstream and peacefully into politics in Afghanistan. Madani said many of the Taliban were just caught up in the conflict and did not have a way out of it. Which Taliban members were willing to be involved and under what circumstances would have to be worked out in the negotiations.” The newspaper says the US official was dismissive of Sharma, dryly commenting that he appeared to exaggerate his role in the talks as well as his influence over world affairs.

Earlier, in a cable on May 19, 2006 about Rahman’s previous visit (May 15-19), the US embassy’s Political Counsellor, Geoffrey Pyatt, noted that his hosts, the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Hind, failed to convince most prominent Muslims to attend a reception in his honour. The embassy was also invited but steered well clear of it on the advice of the embassy in Islamabad. He also wrote that Indian Muslims entertained no sympathy for the Taliban or Rahman and those at the reception were a virtual rogues’ gallery of discredited hard-liners and fundamentalists. Unlike the Pakistani Deobandis, the Deobandis in India, Pyatt explained in the cable, “have (at least in public) kept their distance” from the Taliban.

The reception for him at a Delhi five-star hotel was attended by 200 clerics, mainly from the Deobandi sect, 15 Members of Parliament and some journalists from the Urdu press. The only government representative there was Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz.

The Hindu says Pyatt’s sweeping conclusion of the visit was that it was “further evidence that a witches’ brew of anti-US and pro-Iran Muslims and the Samajwadi Party (SP) of Uttar Pradesh is working together to oppose the UPA government and the US.”


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