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National

November 5, 2018
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Maulana Sami’s death a setback for Afghan peace process

National

November 5, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The assassination of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) chief Maulana Samiul Haq may negatively affect peace process in Afghanistan where efforts are on for a negotiated settlement of the protracted bloody dispute.

Talking to The News, global and local experts said the senior cleric and the custodian of Darul Uloom Haqqania was among very few Pakistani clerics who used to command great respect among Taliban leader many of whom graduated from his seminary.

The former Senator was laid to rest at Darul Uloom Haqqania, Akora Khattak, on Saturday. He was assassinated at his Rawalpindi residence on Friday.

Last month an Afghan government delegation held a meeting with the deceased cleric known as the "Father of the Taliban", at Darul Uloom Haqqania and urged him to play a role in resolving the Afghan issue by bringing the Taliban back to the dialogue table. Maulana agreed to play a part but accused the United States and other international powers of not letting peace happen in Afghanistan.

Michael Kugelman, South Asia expert at US think tank the Wilson Centre termed the death a loss for peace process. “Given Samiul Haq's influence among the Taliban ranks, his death represents the loss of a key interlocutor to kick start peace talks in Afghanistan. Reconciliation has always been an elusive goal, but the effort to launch peace talks might have become all the more difficult,” Kugelman told The News.

Talking to media persons, Hamidul Haq, son of the slain leader, said the world has lost a door for talks with Taliban after the death of his father. He said Maulana Sami was facing threat from India and Afghanistan.

According to an article carried by Arab News, the news of JUI leader’s death was celebrated by an official of Afghan Embassy in the US. “Shortly after news of Maulana Samiul Haq’s murder broke, Majeed Qarar, the cultural attaché at the Afghanistan Embassy in the US, went live on his personal Facebook page to congratulate Afghans on his death,” the paper claimed.

Sami Yousafzai, a London-based journalist working on Afghan issue since 1994 believes Maulana Samiul Haq’s death was loss of a good contact person for peace in Afghanistan. “He was not a leader of Taliban in any way but he enjoyed massive respect among Taliban as a former teacher and spiritual leader. I remember visiting Afghanistan during Taliban regime where half of the cabinet members were students of his Darul Uloom Haqqania,” he said.

Sami said Afghan government wanted the senior cleric to use this influence for peace in Afghanistan. “Maulana was criticised in Afghanistan for his view but he was also appreciated for his anti-US stance,” Sami said.

When contacted by The News, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Faisal said he does not have facts on Samiul Haq’s role in Afghan peace process. However, Rustam Shah Mohmand, a former Pakistani diplomat in Afghanistan and a specialist on Afghan and Central Asian affairs believe Samiul Haq had no direct role in Afghan peace process.

“This is a wrong impression in Pakistan that Maulana Samiul Haq had any role in Afghan peace process. It is true that some Taliban leaders studied in his madrisa but he never played any active role in leading Taliban in any way,” said the former diplomat. He said Afghan government always maintained contacts with the deceased leader but Maulana himself never developed active contacts with Taliban for any negotiations.

“Taliban are now directly negotiating with China, Russia and the United States with their Doha office. This month they will participate in Moscow conference which is being attended by 12 countries including Pakistan, China, India and the United States,” Rustam Shah said.

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