Pakistan’s Sharif Courts Islamist Leader to Help With Taliban Talks

'Godfather of the Taliban' Remains Influential

Pakistan’s incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is set to tap former Senator Maulana Sami ul-Haq as the “intermediary” in his efforts to negotiate with Taliban, drawing on the Islamist leader’s credibility and influence within the Talib movements.

Haq is the head of a prestigious religious school in Pakistan’s northwest (founded by his father), and has been dubbed the “godfather of the Taliban” for the number of future Taliban leaders that attended the school. He also served several terms in the senate and remains the leader of a branch of the Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (JUI) party.

Haq said he is happy with Sharif’s proposal and would like to try to help negotiate peace, but said he won’t make a decision until the Pakistani military signs off on the talks, saying there was no meaning in pursuing a deal with Pakistan’s civilian government unless the military was willing to accept it too.

Sharif has expressed eagerness to come to a settlement with the Taliban forces in Pakistan, though it remains to be seen exactly where the nation’s military will come down on the matter. The US has also been a stumbling block in past negotiations, though Sharif has made it clear he is willing to redefine the US-Pakistan alliance with respect to the endless war on terror, so this may not be as much of an issue.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.