Jamaat chief plays arbiter

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No Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan

There was little hope of the mainstream opposition bloc ever forestalling Imran Khan’s march. But as the PTI’s coalition partner in KPK, the Jamaat was counted on by many as engineering the closest thing to a truce. And the more its ameer, Siraj ul Haq, became visible over the last week, the more hopes were raised about the possibility of some sort of a thaw. But it’s not just that Khan was unrelenting, it seems that the to-and-fro between the PTI and the government left the ameer with second thoughts about the government’s preferred response. He finds both the march and protest constitutional and lawful, which implies that any efforts to confront it are pretty much to the contrary.

There was a time in Pakistani politics not long ago when the likes of Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan could be counted on to diffuse political crises just like the one now choking Islamabad. Since politics is about demands and accommodations, questions and answers, etc, and even sit-ins and demonstrations eventually end in political deals, surely it is wiser to come to amicable settlements without the unnecessary show of force, hostilities, even violence. But our leading politicians lack such subtleties and sensitivities, and often their personal dislike for each other translates into mutually hostile party positions, which makes constructive engagements that much more difficult. It is in such times that seasoned politicians of the Nasrullah mould play a crucial role. And as the confrontation steadily intensifying since last year’s election shows, our political landscape is without such a mediator.

JI has been losing influence for a while now. Siraj’s predecessor spared few opportunities where he could push the party into further controversy. The new ameer was not only charged with face-saving, but also improving the Jamaat’s visibility and political profile. And Imran’s falling out with Nawaz seemed to present the ideal opportunity. But when push came to shove, JI was just without credentials to play a decisive role. Perhaps one silver lining on the cloud hovering over Islamabad is realisation of the need for politics of reconciliation, and necessary agents to achieve such ends.