Fazl offers to mediate between govt and Taliban

PESHAWAR: As security forces are all set to launch a major offensive in the tribal region of South Waziristan, Maulana Fazulur Rehman, the chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, has offered to ‘mediate’ between the government and militants to avert another crisis.

‘We are ready to negotiate between the government and insurgents in the NWFP and tribal area,’ Maulana Fazl told a conference of Ulema and Madressah teachers at the Arbab Niaz Cricket ground on Sunday.

He, however, said that if the government did not accept his offer it would mean that the army was working on the US agenda and the General Headquarters (GHQ) did not want a peaceful solution to the conflict. ‘We want to pull the nation, the government and the army out of the US pressure. Dialogue is the only way to end crisis and international pressure,’ he said.

The two-day conference on ‘Protection of mosques and seminaries’ which was attended by thousands of clerics, prayer leaders and teachers of Madaris in the NWFP and Fata. Parliamentarians and members of the NWFP Assembly belonging to the JUI-F also attended the conference.

The conference issued a declaration vowing to continue the peaceful struggle for enforcement of Islamic system in the country. The conference also called for adopting a middle path, instead of waging an armed struggle. For the first time burqa-clad women activists of the party were allowed to attend such a conference.

In his address, Maulana Fazl accused security forces of committing extra-judicial killings and human rights violations in Malakand and other parts of the province and Fata.

‘Such acts could be expected from militants as they are a disorganised force but a regular army should not indulge in such violations,’ he said, adding that the chief of his party in Hangu district was killed in an air strike and six workers were shot dead near his house in Dera Ismail Khan.

Despite that, he said, he was ready to play a positive role to avert further bloodshed and destruction. Taliban, he asserted, were not posing a threat to the country. He said that Americans had already taken over Islamabad and deployed Blackwater agents and Marines in different cities. He claimed that the US government had purchased land in Balochistan and Punjab to strengthen its network for completion of its imperialist agenda in the region.

He accused the GHQ of following the US agenda to crush militants and destroy seminaries and mosques in military operations in the name of war on terror. He asked the government to compensate the people for the losses they had suffered and for killing of their relatives in military operations.

He also criticised NWFP’s coalition government for signing a so-called peace deal with Maulana Sufi Muhammad and said that leaders of Awami National Party had deviated from the philosophy of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who preached non-violence.

He said the announcement about enforcement of Sharia in Malakand was a drama and innocent people were deceived. He said the people of Swat were struggling for Islamic system while the government had signed a deal with Sufi Muhammad, who belonged to Lower Dir district.

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