Internal differences to hinder MMA’s success in upcoming elections

  • Prospects of MMA’s victory quite bleak, says Hassan Askari Rizvi
  • Liaquat Baloch says MMA to hold first convention on May 2


ISLAMABAD: The rebirth of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has baffled the country as the religio-political parties, who were often at each other’s throat, united on one platform merely for political mileage and to avoid possible embarrassing defeat in the forthcoming general elections due to their fast-shrinking vote bank.

The revival of the MMA is the classic example of the interest-driven political alliance because all the five religious parties gathered at the single platform despite having a different political and religious agenda. However, this time around, its victory prospects in the general elections as compared to 2002 are quite gloomy.

The five religious parties including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), Tehreek-e-Islami Pakistan (TIP) and Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith (MJAH) announced an alliance on March 20, elected Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Liaquat Baloch as the president and secretary general of the MMA respectively. The alliance, however, failed to hold a single joint public gathering from the platform of the MMA hitherto.

Sources privy to the development told Pakistan Today that though the MMA was revived, a number of issues have yet to be settled because it’s not a natural rather an interest-driven alliance since the allied parties belong to different schools of thought and have had bitter relations in the past.

Pointing out the differences in the leadership, they said, “Maulana Fazlur Rehman can be seen holding public gatherings in various cities while JI Amir Sirajul Haq holds public meetings in others.”

Sources further said that the allied parties could face serious issues during the distribution of tickets as no formula pertaining to tickets’ distribution has been devised so far.

Besides that, they said that two major parties of the coalition – JUI-F and JI – have differences over FATA’s future status. Therefore, it was decided to leave FATA open as every party was allowed to field candidates from their respective parties’ forums instead of MMA to avoid confusion, they added.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Hassan Askari Rizvi, a senior political analyst, said that MMA doesn’t appear as prospective as it did in 2002 as at that time, the whole situation was in their favour and the then Musharraf regime was also sympathetic to them.

He also said at that time, all major Islamic parties were a part of it, but today, some of them were contesting elections separately.

“So I don’t think MMA will be a very effective organisation, though the JI and JUI-F separately could win few seats from some areas and could bargain to get a price if no party gets a clear majority in the elections,” he added.

To a question, he said that the allied parties would face a challenge to convince the public since the JUI-F remained in power in almost all the governments, either it was of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) or of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), questioning its convictions. Similarly, he said that the JI’s politics is very strange as it is part of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led (PTI) government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and now it will compete against PTI in the province under the banner of MMA.

All this will create confusion for the voters and embarrassment for the parties, Rizvi added.

When contacted, MMA Secretary General Liaquat Baloch said that they were busy in the selection of conveners and different bodies at provincial and district levels respectively in the last one month. He added that since the process had been completed, the first convention of the MMA would be held at Islamabad convention centre on May 2.

About differences over FATA issue, he said that they had a different stance regarding the resolution of FATA, but they sorted it out amicably. He added that they would contest elections in FATA from MMA’s platform.

To a question, he said that the parliamentary board has to decide about the tickets while keeping in view the ground reality.

He further said that the parties would try to keep each other intact to introduce a culture of decency in politics instead of mud-slinging and allegations and counter-allegations.