US Courts Pakistan Islamists
After years of neglect and sometimes animosity, the US is courting Pakistan’s mainstream religious parties, who were American allies during the Soviety invasion of Afghanistan, seeking their cooperation on issues ranging from militancy in the tribal belt to the extension of the US diplomatic mission in Islamabad.
Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy on Pakistan and Afghanistan, is scheduled to meet with leaders of the Jammat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), the country’s two major Islamic parties, for the first time.
“The meeting will be held later today evening,” Shahid Shamsi, the central information secretary of Jammat Islami, told IslamOnline.net on Monday, August 17.
He said the party will be represented by its secretary general and former lawmaker Liaquat Baloch and deputy chief Syed Mohammad Kamal.
The JUI delegation will be headed by its leader and former opposition leader Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman.
US officials initially wanted the meeting with Holbrooke, currently on his fifth visit to Pakistan since his appointment some ten months ago, to be held in the embassy in Islamabad.
The proposal was turned down by the religious parties and the meeting is scheduled to be held at a local hotel.
Shamsi declined to specify the issues that will be discussed with Halbroke.
“Certainly, all the issues relating to current situation will come under discussion,” he said.
“We will present our fair and strong point of view on all issues.”
What could go wrong? (Sarc alert)