Editorial Targeting Fazl Friday, April 01, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=39292&Cat=8

Someone seems determined to get Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of his own faction of the JUI-F. Less than 24 hours after he survived an attack as a convoy headed to Swabi was hit by a suicide-bomber riding a motorbike packed with explosives, another suicide bomber targeted his convoy this time in Charsadda. These attacks are quite evidently not casual strikes but emanate from what now appears to be a distinct plot to assassinate him. It is also a well-thought one, with the would-be killers apparently well-informed of his movements. But each time Rehman and key aides have survived. Others have not been so lucky. Eight JUI-F men and two policemen died in Swabi. And 12 were killed in Charsadda. Many others are reported to have been injured. After some initial hesitation, the JUI-F decided to go ahead with the rally at a playground in Swabi. In a defiant address, Rehman said that his party would not be cowed and blamed government policies for deaths due to drone strikes in the tribal areas.

National and provincial leaders have condemned the strike. Investigations are underway and the bomber at Swabi has been identified as a teenager from the Khyber Agency. The pattern is one we are familiar with. The JUI-F also suffered a terrorist attack on a madressah in Pishin, in March 2009, in which five people died. But this time around, there seems to be a far more urgent desire to remove Rehman from the scene. It is impossible at this point to say why, or guess when the next attack may come. Leaders like Rehman are all the more vulnerable because they must meet people and mingle with them. We cannot help but ask if this may be a case of monsters along the lines of Frankenstein coming home to roost. The JUI-F has been seen, over many years, as being close to the Taliban; it has also been accused of helping to train militants. Perhaps, these militants now blame it for refusing to make a complete break with the government or perhaps the latest attack is a result of infighting between the growing armies of splinter groups. Quite possibly the motive is totally different. But whatever the truth is, these attacks serve to highlight the increasingly dangerous situation faced as attempts continue to be made to eliminate key leaders. Over the past few months, we have seen too many deaths. The major political parties need to sit together to decide on strategy. There is no other viable choice. The alternative is that the risk of other assassinations will remain, adding to the instability and the threats we already face, with things rapidly assuming ever more ominous proportions. 

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