Indian Muslims entertain no sympathy for the Taliban or Rahman and those at the reception were a virtual rogues' gallery of discredited hard-liners and fundamentalists.

64728 5/19/2006 13:50 06NEWDELHI3506 Embassy New Delhi CONFIDENTIAL 06NEWDELHI3248 "VZCZCXRO0905OO RUEHDBUDE RUEHNE #3506/01 1391350ZNY CCCCC ZZHO 191350Z MAY 06FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHITO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4110INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVERUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVERUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2129RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 5420RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 5435RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 8422RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 6101RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 8486RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3337RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 3978RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 3887RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI 3991RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE 2642RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 3146RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 3298RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDCRUEIDN/DNI WASHINGTON DCRHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HIRUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0835RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FLRUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3106RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HIRHMFISS/HQ USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FLRUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC" "C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NEW DELHI 003506

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/19/2016 TAGS: PREL, KDEM, KISL, PGOV, PINR, PTER, SCUL, IN, PK, AF

SUBJECT: AN INDIAN ROGUE'S GALLERY ENTERTAINS A PAKISTANI TALIBAN APOLOGIST

REF: A. NEW DELHI 3248

B. NEW DELHI 3199 C. NEW DELHI 2561 D. NEW DELHI 2539 E. NEW DELHI 2363

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Classified By: PolCouns Geoff Pyatt for reasons 1.4 (B,D)

1. (C) Pakistani hard-liner and Taliban advocate Fazlur Rahman visited India from May 15-19. During his visit, he was guest of honor at a Delhi reception hosted by the Deobandi Political organization Jamiat-i-Ulama-i-Hind (JuH), that we steered well clear of. The JuH failed to convince most prominent Muslims to attend, although former Foreign Minister Natwar Singh and former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah were there. At the reception, Rahman purportedly accused the US and its coalition partners of ""butchering Muslims"" and threatened eternal war in Afghanistan unless the Taliban were taken into the government. English press coverage was scanty and mild, but Rahman's comments were covered in detail in the Urdu press. Indian Muslims entertain no sympathy for the Taliban or Rahman and those at the reception were a virtual rogues' gallery of discredited hard-liners and fundamentalists. The Rahman visit culminated in a May 19 meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which we interpret as another facet of his relentless outreach to the people of Pakistan, whatever their political coloration. The Rahman trip is further evidence that a witches' brew of anti-US and pro-Iran Muslims and the Samajwadi Party (SP) of Uttar Pradesh is working together to oppose the UPA government and the US. End Summary.

De-Facto Taliban Comes Calling

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2. (U) Fazlur Rahman, Pakistani hard-line MP, head of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (F), leader of the opposition in the Pakistan National Assembly, and outspoken proponent of the Taliban, is in India for a private visit at the invitation of the Indian Muslim political organization the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JuH). Rahman and a five member delegation arrived in India on May 15 and are expected to return to Pakistan on May 19. The JuH is the political arm of the Deobandi sect of Indian Islam, which espouses religious doctrines very close to those of the Wahhabi sect of Saudi Arabia. While Pakistani Deobandis have been closely enmeshed with the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, their Indian counterparts have (at least in public) kept their distance.

And Attends a Reception in His Honor

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3. (SBU) On May 17, the JuH hosted a reception for Rahman at a Delhi five star hotel. In addition to about 200 largely Deobandi clerics, those who attended included 15 MPs and some Urdu journalists. The only GOI representative who attended was Kashmiri Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz. Other prominent guests included: former Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, former Chief Minister of J&K Farooq Abdullah and Ram Gopal Yadav, the brother of UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. The host was Mahmood Madani, a member of the Madani clan which founded the JuH. He was recently elected to the upper house of Parliament (the Rajya Sabha) with the support of the Samajwadi Party (SP), which is currently running Uttar Pradesh (UP). Although invited to attend, we heeded Embassy Islamabad's counsel and stayed far away.

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The English Press is Mild and Misleading

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4. (U) The English language press reported that Rahman was on a visit to ""boost the peace process,"" by ""encouraging people-to-people contacts and accelerating cross-border solidarity."" English language reporting on the visit was scanty and vague, while the Urdu press covered it in great detail. Rahman made a short speech at the reception in which he urged President Karzai to lift the ban on the Taliban and allow it to participate in the Afghan government. In English press accounts Rahman purportedly stated that the Taliban is ""dedicated to bringing unity to a faction-ridden nation,"" and ""has been engaged in all kinds of constructive activities in Afghanistan and the region."" One press account claimed that Rahman urged the Taliban to shun violence and become a Afghan political party and contest elections. He also supposedly urged India and Pakistan to ""join hands to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.""

Contacts Tell a Different Story

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5. (C) Our Muslim contacts present quite a different picture of the Rahman visit than that portrayed in the English press. In a May 18 meeting with Poloff, influential moderate Barelvi cleric Qari Mian Mazari insisted that he and many others from the Barelvi sect had been invited to the reception, but all had refused to attend. The Barelvis, India's largest Muslim sect, are locked in an increasingly virulent struggle with more fundamentalist Deobandi rivals (Ref A). Other Muslim contacts, some of whom attended the reception, claimed that the JuH had invited over 500 prominent Muslims from a variety of sects to attend, and that over 70 percent, including all Barelvi, and Sufi invitees, failed to show up. The few non-Deobandis that attended were from the Wahhabi Ahle Hadith sect and the pro-Wahhabi Jamaat Islami organization. The hall was so empty that the JuH was forced to fill it at the last minute with its own clerics.

A Wolf in Wolf's Clothing

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6. (C) Mazari derided Rahman as a ""de-facto Taliban in the Pakistan government"" and a well-known supporter of terrorism. According to Mazari, Rahman's speech at the reception was far more aggressive than portrayed in the English press. According to Urdu press accounts, Rahman purportedly held India, Pakistan and the West to blackmail, promising that there would never be peace in Afghanistan unless the Taliban were allowed into the government. He also accused the US and the western countries of ""butchering Muslims in the name of counter-terrorism."" Mazari dismissed all talk of the visit as a ""peace mission,"" asking rhetorically ""how anyone could be on a peace mission while demanding support for the Taliban"" and ""this is like trying to protect your house from a robber by giving him the key."" Describing the visit as a ""provocation,"" Mazari predicted that all but the most hard-line Indian Muslims would condemn Rahman and his activities in India. He opined that Indian Muslims have never entertained sympathy for the Taliban and the visit was doomed to failure.

Political/Business Mercenaries Backing Rahman

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7. (C) In a May 19 meeting with Poloff Congress MP R. Prabhu and investigative journalist Sanjay Kapoor (protect) claimed that Rahman's visit is being bankrolled by ""independent"" MP and wealthy businessman Lalit Suri (who is closely connected to the SP and UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav). Rahman and his delegation stayed at the Intercontinental ""The Grand"" Hotel, which is owned by Suri, who purportedly kept a block of 50 rooms open in the hotel to be used by Maulvis from throughout India who were expected to attend the reception. However, none of the Maulvis turned up and the rooms remained empty. Prabhu and Kapoor maintain that Suri pays a monthly allowance to Natwar Singh and bankrolls his political career. They assert that Natwar attended the reception at Suri's behest. Suri purportedly assists Rahman and the Deobandis to ensure that Islamic terrorists do not interfere with his considerable business interests in Kashmir (where he owns the nicest hotel in Srinagar).

Comment - Vultures of a Feather Flock Together

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8. (C) Natwar's presence at such a disreputable event can only hurt his political future and further alienate him from the Congress leadership, which is not amused by his antics. Singh and the other prominent guests share an anti-US, anti-UPA and pro-Iran orientation and belong to a long list of persons tied to Lalit Suri through political and business deals. Moderate Muslims are pointing to the guest list as further evidence that there is a growing nexus between the SP, the JuH, and other extremist Muslims (including radical Shias), which most believe is being encouraged and funded by Iran.

9. (U) Visit New Delhi's Classified Website: (http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/sa/newdelhi/)

MULFORD