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).