EU snubs Pakistani delegate

The European Parliament has been obliged to cancel talks with a delegation of Pakistani lawmakers after protesting against Islamabad's inclusion of a reputedly pro-Taliban member of parliament.

    Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam opposed US operations in Afghanistan

    Rejecting Senator Mawlana Sami al-Haq as a radical pro-Taliban Islamist on Wednesday, EP spokeswoman Majory Van Den Broeke told Aljazeera.net that Pakistan's eight-member senate delegation had pulled out of meetings on learning of Brussel's decision.

    Officials in Islamabad have dismissed the European Parliament's accusations, but a British member of the parliament

    said t

    he head of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam political party was not welcome.

    "The European Parliament espouses the ideals of democracy, equality and human rights," Neena Gill, the S

    outh Asia Interparliamentary Committee chief, said.

    "

    We cannot condone therefore individuals who place themselves outside these parameters, for they represent everything we stand against," she said.

    Al-Haq's party is part of a six-party coalition that has a strong presence in Pakistan's lower house of parliament.

    He is also the head of Dar al-Ulum Haqqania, a mainly private Islamic seminary in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province that several leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban attended.

    Pakistani reaction

    The Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam party is one of many Pakistani political parties that opposed US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, organising protest rallies.

    Reacting to the news, Pakistan's minister for information, Shaikh Rashid Ahmad, told Aljazeera.net that the MEP's explanation for the cancellation was incomprehensible.

    Sami al-Haq's faction is part of a
    powerful six-party alliance

    "This is ridiculous. Al-Haq is an elected member of parliament and speaks on behalf of those who have elected him. She talks about espousing democracy and equality and yet cannot bear the idea of talking to a representative. 

    "His name was included on the delegation list, so her timing is poor to say the least. And as for the Taliban accusation - well, it is just absurd. Perhaps if she had agreed to meet him rather than maligning him, she could have found that out for herself."

    Gill said she would recommend to other EU lawmakers that parliament improve its checks on visiting delegations to avoid future embarrassment.

    The eight-member senate delegation was to meet Gill's 22-member committee as well as hold talks with German Conservative Elmar Brok, who leads the parliament's foreign affairs committee.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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