JUI-F seeking seat-to-seat adjustment with PPP in KP


As the political arena in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa heats up ahead of approaching general elections, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) are considering seat-to-seat adjustment.
In this regard, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman is considering to contest election from his native district of Dera Ismael Khan, where PPP leader Faisal Karim Kundi is reluctant to accept such a move.
So far, the two parties appears to be developing understanding on seat-to-seat adjustment in Lakki Marwat district. In that case, one seat each in the national and provincial assembly will go to the Saifullah family, whereas the remaining two provincial assembly seats will be given to the JUI-F or Haji Kabir Khan’s family.
The irony in this case is that party tickets would be given to nominees from both the families according to their influence, despite the family’s diversified political affiliation. Salim Saifullah is reportedly interested in contesting elections for the National Assembly from his Pakistan Muslim League-Likeminded (LM) whereas Anwar Saifullah would be the prime candidate for the provincial assembly seat.
Since previous polls, particularly after quitting the PPP-led coalition government, Fazl is doing his best to strengthen his party throughout the province. To achieve his objective, the rightwing politician is even welcoming moderate, progressive and liberal people into his party. Among them is the family of late MNA Kabir Khan, including sitting PML-N MPA from Lakki Marwat, former PPP MPA from Bannu Malik Riaz, former ANP MPA from Kohat Shaukat Habib, influential politician from Karak Ayub Khattak, sitting PPP-Sherpao MPA from Hangu Attique Ur Rehman and several others are prominent. Whereas Khawaja Mohammad Khan Hoti, former federal minister from Mardan, has finalised his decision of joining the JUI-F, but is yet to make an announcement in this regard.
After drumming support of several influential politicians, the JUI-F emerged as a strong and popular force in the southern districts of the province. The JUI-F leaders were hopeful of sweeping the upcoming elections in the region, which includes seven seats of the national assembly and 19 of the provincial assembly. But President Zardari has left fewer options for Fazl other than a deal with the PPP after nominating influential Anwar Saifullah as the PPP’s provincial president. Belonging to a decent, sober, experienced and popular political family, Anwar Saifullah has initiated a struggle for building up understanding with various political parties. So far he is considered a strong opponent to the Awami National Party (ANP), the JUI-F and PPP-Sherpao. Former interior minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao has now renamed his PPP-Sherpao to Quami Watan Party in a bid to replace the ANP as a nationalist political force. Similarly, Anwar Saifullah has also initiated contacts with his cousin Ayub Khattak from Karak who had joined the JUI-F. Khattak is likely to join the PPP, as he is reluctant for return to his late father’s PML. Ayub Khattak is the son of late Yousaf Khattak, who served PML factions like PML (Convention and Qayoom) as its central secretary general.
Although Fazl and his colleagues are portraying the JUI-F as a strong political force since the late 80’s when they demanded 66 percent seats from other MRD components during the 1988 general elections, but the party had failed to endorse such claims in elections from 1988 to 1997. However, the JUI-F emerged as a strong political force in 2002 general elections when all religious political forces came under the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). But since empowering the MMA in November 2002 until its dissolution in October 2007, leaders of the JUI-F and Jamaat-e-Islami remained in tussles with each other on each and every issue. Even, the JI leaders threatened to resign a couple of times while JUI-Sami leader Ikramullah Shahid had not only resigned from the office of the deputy speaker but also moved to opposition benches. Despite using the name and symbol of MMA, the JUI-F had failed to maintain its 2002-like popularity in 2008 general elections. But with Fazl’s negotiations, the party became part of the coalition government in the centre.
Fazl has also strengthened his party’s position by announcing to restore the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) without Jamaat Islami. However, after entering into seat-to-seat adjustment with the PPP, Fazl could ensure lion’s share in the future set up in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the federal government.