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Pro-Taliban Islamist politician again targeted in Pakistan's northwest



For the second time in two days, someone tried to kill Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl political party. Yesterday, a suicide bomber targeted Rehman in Swabi, killing 10 people. Today, 12 people were killed in the northwestern district of Charsadda in what appears to be a roadside bomb attack against Rehman's convoy. From Dawn:

"The bomb blast hit a police vehicle deployed for security of the convoy," senior police official Nisar Khan Marwat told AFP.

Fazlur Rehman and his companions were unharmed, Marwat said, adding that the politician had gone to the town to address a party meeting.

JUI-F spokesman Asif Iqbal Daudzai confirmed that the party chief and other leaders were not hurt, but two security guards travelling in the vehicle in front were wounded. "Maulana Fazlur Rehman and others are safe, their vehicle was damaged in the bomb blast," Daudzai told AFP. Moreover, Abdul Jalil Jan, a JUI leader told Reuters: "The bomb exploded just when Maulana Fazlur Rehman's vehicle passed that area. He was on his way to attend a public meeting. He is safe and sound."

Ajmal Khan Naimat, a top government official in Charsadda, said nine people were killed and Rehman was apparently the target. "Yes, Maulana was the target of the attack. We don't know why is he being targeted," Rehman's aide Jan said.

Over at The Pakistan Policy Blog, Arif Rafiq explains two possible reasons why Rehman may have been targeted. In short, this is jihadist power-politics. Either Rehman's being targeted by more radical jihadists (such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan) due to his past attempts to mediate between the Afghan Taliban and the US, or he's being targeted by the Pakistani military for the same reasons (in this case, the near-misses may be warnings).



READER COMMENTS: "Pro-Taliban Islamist politician again targeted in Pakistan's northwest"

Posted by Charu at April 1, 2011 2:21 AM ET:

I love it. Live by the sword, die by the sword! The fact that he wasn't killed suggests that these were warnings, probably from the ISI, which is more nuanced about these messages than the Taliban whose message is usually terminal.

Posted by Max at April 1, 2011 10:28 AM ET:

He didn't have sufficient foam around the mouth to suit the Taliban...

Posted by Charu at April 1, 2011 5:17 PM ET:

The NYT has an article that may shed some light on this attempted killing, the Taliban's hunt for spies in their ranks, and the Davis affair:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/01/world/asia/01taliban.html

A Pakistani intelligence official confirmed that C.I.A. operatives were using their own local agents to target Qaeda-linked militants with drones in Pakistanís tribal areas, and speculated that they could be trying to expand that campaign to reach other Pakistani militants and Afghan Taliban inside Pakistan.

The C.I.A. has been formulating such a plan for months, according to two former Afghan security officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the covert nature of their work. The Americans have been using tribesmen, including members of the Taliban they have turned, to attack other Taliban groups in the border areas, one official said.

....
A Pakistani government official working in the border region said both American and Pakistani intelligence agencies favored different insurgent groups and were striking at each otherís.