Editorial : JUI-F chief targeted - Friday 1st April 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/01/jui-f-chief-targeted.html

THE assassination attempts on Maulana Fazlur Rahman, on two successive days, should not come as a surprise: he is not the first `moderate` religious leader whom extremists have tried to eliminate. He is lucky to have survived; others were not. On June 12, 2009, Mufti Dr Sarfaraz Ahmad Naeemi, imam of Jamia Naeemia and a respected scholar, fell victim to a suicide attack. He was a vocal opponent of religious extremism and of the theory and practice of Taliban philosophy. His assassination in a Lahore mosque and the recent attempts on the life of the JUI-F chief conform to doctrinaire strategies which all ideologically motivated movements follow. A `soft-liner` in the fraternity — whatever the term might mean at a given time — is a greater enemy and threat than the `real` enemy. Whether it was the FLN in Algeria or the liberation movement in Kashmir, those who assumed the role of mainstream fighters have always considered `deviants` from the `right path` as heretics meant to be done away with.
The Taliban have no shame in declaring that they are at war with the state of Pakistan. For that reason they target all state institutions and those who run them. They have denounced the electoral process and allege that democracy is western in nature. Maulana Fazl and his party do not appear to share this philosophy and, believing in parliamentary democracy, take part in elections, thus incurring the TTP`s and Al Qaeda`s wrath. The JUI-F has been a fierce opponent of Islamabad`s perceived pro-America policies, but that did not stop it from contesting the 2002 and 2008 elections. The JUI-F has also been part of coalition governments in Islamabad and two provinces and has exhibited common sense by believing that democracy is the best way of solving political differences and resolving ideological schisms. This, in the eyes of the extremists, is a crime punishable by death.
After the first deadly attack, which killed several party workers, the JUI chief managed to reach the venue of his Swabi meeting, where in an angry speech he denounced America and the war on terror. Speaking to the media after Thursday`s attack, the maulana spoke in the same vein, saying that he had been targeted because of his opposition to the drone attacks and his support for Dr Aafia Siddiqui — there was obvious reluctance to openly condemn religious extremism although he is aware that such violent tactics are linked mostly to the TTP. We urge the government to hold an inquiry to determine who planned to assassinate Maulana Fazl, a veteran politician of national stature.

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