by Zia Ur Rehman

Nov 23-29, 2012

On October 19, former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed narrowly escaped a suicide attack in Gandau area of Mohmand Agency. A burqa-clad woman blew herself up near his convoy injuring five.

Qazi’s procession was headed to the Mian Mandi area of Haleemzai tehsil to address a gathering and open a party office when it came under attack near Ghyiba Chowk, according to Adil Siddique, the political agent. According to a witness, a woman sitting on the roadside detonated the explosives strapped to her body when the convoy arrived. Officials found pieces of female clothing and hair on the site.

The event was not postponed despite the suicide attack. Qazi told reporters later that he had been attacked by “the agents of the US, Israel and India”, and not by Muslims.

Although nobody has claimed responsibility for the bombing, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakeemullah Mehsud had released a video several months ago in which he had denounced Qazi and questioned his stance on TTP attacks in Pakistan. In the Pashto video made and released by Umer Media, Mehsud cites an April 2012 interview by Salim Safi on Geo TV. He criticized Qazi for saying that the Afghan Taliban’s resistance against foreign forces was true jihad and that of the Pakistani Taliban against Pakistan was un-Islamic. Hakimullah argued that the JI leader was wrong.

Qazi had refused to respond to the video. “I know about the existence of this videotape, but I have no comments to make,” he told reporters.

Militants operating in Mohmand Agency are led by Omar Khalid, whose real name is Abdul Wali. A source in the police said the Mohmand chapter of TTP was involved in most of the recent attacks on political leaders in the neighboring Charsadda and Peshawar districts.

On November 11, a bomb planted near the house of Jamaat-e-Islami Peshawar chief and former lawmaker Sabir Hussain Awan went off, damaging a nearby house and a mosque.

Last year, police defused a bomb planted near the house of another JI leader, Shabbir Ahmad Khan. At least 27 people including JI Peshawar vice chief Haji Dost Muhammad and a deputy superintendent of police were killed in a suicide attack in Qissa Khwani Bazar of Peshawar in April 2010.

Fazlur Rehman, chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, survived two successive suicide attacks in Swabi and Charsadda in March 2011.

Several activists and leaders of the JUI-F have been targeted and killed in Khyber Pakhtunkwa and FATA in the last four years. Those who died include Mairajuddin, a former MNA from the Mehsud area of South Waziristan, Noor Muhammad Wazir, a former MNA from the Wazir area of South Waziristan, and Haji Afzal Khan, former district mayor of Hangu.

These attacks are significant because JUI-F and JI are considered pro-Taliban. Some political analysts believe the attacks indicate a growing ideological divide between the religious political parties and Pakistani Taliban concerning the legitimacy of the Pakistani state.

The TTP openly denounces democracy and calls the state un-Islamic. The religious parties participate in elections and recognize the authority of the Pakistani state.

The March 2011 assassination attempts on Fazlur Rehman came days after leaked US State Department cables revealed JUI-F leaders reportedly wanted to mediate between the US and the Afghan Taliban. Analysts say the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda decided to sever links with the JUI-F after that.

Serious differences had also been reported between Jamaat-e-Islami and Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi led by Sufi Mohammad and his son-in-law Fazlullah. Sufi was a local leader of the JI in Dir district until the early 1980s, when he parted ways with them and violated their policy of getting power only through elections