Islamabad, March 31 (IANS) Nine people were killed Thursday in a bombing that targetted Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, exposed last week by WikiLeaks for his offer to the US to mediate with the Taliban. It was the second attack on him in two days.
At least nine people were killed and 16 others were injured Thursday in the powerful bombing that took place in Charsadda district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province when Rehman was passing through a busy street in a motor convoy.
Rehman was unhurt but some of his bodyguards were injured, said Nisar Marwat, the district police chief.
“Until now nine people are confirmed dead while 16 more are injured,” DPA quoted Marwat as saying.
Xinhua reported that those who died in the blast include three policemen and one woman, and many of the injured were in critical condition. The toll could rise.
Eyewitnesses said that a man blew himself up while the convoy carrying Rehman passed by. Rehman’s car was damaged, but he himself remained unhurt in the attack.
It was the second attempt on Rehman’s life.
On Wednesday, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives when Rehman was about to reach a political rally in Swabi district. Ten people were killed and 19 were injured in that attack.
The two attacks in quick succession came after a leading Indian newspaper March 26 accessed cables leaked by WikiLeaks that reveal Rehman had sent a message to the US embassy in New Delhi offering to mediate with the Taliban.
The Hindu newspaper reported that Muslim leaders in New Delhi stayed away from Fazlur Rehman when he visited the city in May 2006. He again visited the following year.
He then offered his services as a mediator between the US and the Taliban.
Rehman also sought the assistance of the Americans to help him play his “rightful” role in the Pakistan government.
On May 3, 2007, assistant political counselor Atul Keshap reported (cable 106645: secret) his meeting with JuH leader Mahmood Madani.
Madani told the US official that Rehman had a “pressing issue he wanted to discuss with US officials, but he was only interested in holding these talks outside of Pakistan”, The Hindu reported.
He went on to say that Rehman “could not speak freely in Pakistan, that he would say one thing in Pakistan and something else in India if asked”.
“Madani explained that Rehman was interested in acting as a go-between for the United States, to negotiate with the Taliban in order to bring them into the mainstream and peacefully into politics in Afghanistan. Madani said many of the Taliban were just caught up in the conflict and did not have a way out of it. Which Taliban members were willing to be involved and under what circumstances would have to be worked out in the negotiations.”