Rediff News
All News
News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp  » News » The day hawks turned doves

The day hawks turned doves

July 22, 2003 02:44 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

The thaw cannot get any warmer than this.

A month back if someone had predicted that Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman -- the godfather of Taliban and the chief of the hardline Jamait Ulema-e-Islam -- would be closeted talking peace with the who's who of the Indian rightwing politics, he would have been laughed out of business.

But exactly that and much more happened on Monday.

Rehman's hectic parleys began in the morning.

Crisscrossing Delhi, he first met Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, then joined hands with Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders, followed it up by chatting up the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and rounded it all off by striking a cordial pose with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh top brass.

Interview: 'India and Pak should work to end US expansionism'
Why did the Pak hawk visit Deoband?
No room for terrorism for Islam: Rehman
'Fundamentalist groups do not believe in terrorism'
Intelligence foxed by Pak hardliner's visit to India

His meeting with the UP strongman, after which he was carrying the 'message of peace and friendship' back home, set the tone.

He was then closeted with VHP leaders Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Acharya Giriraj Kishore in the conference room of a five star hotel in downtown Connaught Place.

After 50 minutes, the assembled journalists were in for a pleasant shock as the hawks came hand-in-hand and spouted the language of doves.

"We are very happy and we have discussed ways to find peace in the region," Rehman said terming the meeting 'very encouraging'.

Asked how the meeting went, Dalmiya said: "Ours is the same mission as that of our Pakistani friends of having a peaceful atmosphere... we welcomed our Pakistani brothers to uphold the tradition of our country to give all respects to the guest."

Rajya Sabha member Lalit Suri, Pundit N K Sharma and Lahore-based journalist of Pakistani daily The News, Imtiaz Alam, also attended the meeting.

Next on Rehman's list -- who is leaving for Moradabad on Tuesday and then to Amritsar from where he will enter Pakistan -- was the Congress chief. A three-member JUI delegation accompanied him.

Emerging after 30 minutes, Rehman said, "We apprised her about the purpose of our mission to India and were happy to know that her feelings reciprocated ours."

"I find yearning for peace everywhere and I hope that the process (for this) will begin soon," Rehman said when asked to sum up his visit.

Rounding off the extraordinary day, Rehman met the RSS top brass -- H V Seshadri, Madan Das Devi and Ram Madhav -- in the evening for close to an hour.

RSS sources told the top brass, while appreciating the peace initiative, also reminded the Maulana that cross-border terrorism was a still matter of concern.

Rehman's response, said the sources, was that problems were there from both sides and only one party could not be blamed.

Agencies with inputs from Tara Shankar Sahay in Delhi

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: