US aid to Sunni Ittehad Council ‘double-edged’ sword

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The US embassy in Pakistan has said that Washington gave money to a Pakistani Muslim group that organised anti-Taliban rallies, but which later demonstrated in support of Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, American local news service SeattlePi reported. US government website Usaspending.gov showed that the group, the Sunni Ittehad Council, received $36,607 from Washington in 2009, said the report. SeattlePi quoted a US diplomat who wished to remain unnamed as saying the embassy had given money to the group to organise the rallies, but that it had since changed direction and leadership. He said it was a one-off grant, and would not be repeated.
The grant was first reported by the Council of Foreign Relations on its website, said the report. The American money was used to organise nationwide rallies against militants and suicide bombings, the embassy official said. The rhetoric at the rallies was mostly focused on opposing militant attacks on shrines, which Barelvis frequent but are opposed by Deobandis, who dominate the ranks of the Taliban, said the report.In 2011 and also this month, however, the council led demonstrations in support of the killer of Salmaan Taseer, said the report. Mumtaz Qadri, a Barelvi, claimed he acted to defend the honour of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), a cause that was especially dear to Barelvis, said the report.
At its rallies, the group maintained its criticism of the Taliban even as it supported Qadri — a seemingly contradictory stance that suggested its leaders may be more interested in harnessing the political support and street power of Barelvis than in genuinely countering militancy, said the report. Two leading members of the council who had been with the group from the beginning of its existence denied receiving any American funds, the report added. The apparent discrepancy could be explained by lack of transparency within the organisation, it said.
“This propaganda is being unleashed against us because we are strongly opposed to Western democracy and American policies in the region and in the world,” SeattlePi quoted Sahibzada Fazal Karim, the head of the council, as saying. “We are against extremism, but we support Qadri because he did a right thing,” he said.

1 COMMENT

  1. A trick to support talibans. It is part of package at the start of dialogue between taliban and america. Talibans are against sunnis and americans are also.

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