The maulana factor

The writer is an author and journalist.

IN November 2007, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman hosted what was described in a confidential US embassy cable as a “jovial” dinner for the then US ambassador Anne Patterson. He is said to have sought her help to become prime minister and expressed a wish to visit the US.

After the meeting, according to another cable accessed by WikiLeaks, the US ambassador mentioned the JUI-F chief’s “famously wily” political skills. “He has made it clear that his, still significant, number of votes are up for sale,” she wrote in an official memo to the State Department.

This was the period when Pakistan was in the midst of a popular uprising against Gen Pervez Musharraf’s military-led government, and the crafty maulana could well have seen an opportunity for himself as a major player in the emerging power game.

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