Milli Yekjehti Council: New religio-political parties’ alliance on cards?

Pic21-043 ISLAMABAD: Oct 21 – President Milli Yakjehti Council (MYC) Dr Sahibzada Abul Khair Muhammad Zubair charring the MYC meeting. JI SG Liaqat Baloch, Allama Sajid Naqvi also seen in picture. ONLINE PHOTO by S M Sohail
  • –Major blow to MMA’s revival as JUI-S already decides to contest elections from DPC platform 
  • — Fazl’s refusal to part ways with the federal government a major reason for the new alliance 

ISLAMABAD: Efforts of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman to revive Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) as an electoral alliance suffered a major setback on Saturday when major religio-political forces agreed to transform Milli Yekjehti Council (MYC) into an electoral alliance.

An official handout following a session of the MYC stated that since most of the member parties of the council contest elections, it would be wise to use the same platform to contest the forthcoming elections.

It may be mentioned here that the MMA was an electoral alliance of six religious parties, including JUI-F, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), JUI-S headed by Difa-e-Pakistan Council’s (DPC) Chairman Samiul Haq, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith and Tehreek-e-Jafria Pakistan led by Sajid Naqvi.

Earlier, the DPC had decided not to become a part of the MMA and contest elections from the platform of the MYC. The DPC and MYC could form a larger alliance of religious political parties in case MYC goes on to contest elections from its own platform.

The handout also threatened the federal government of agitations if it fails to unmask the people who had changed the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat (PBUH) oath in the Election Reforms Bill 2017.

The handout demanded of the government to take action against Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, or face the music. It further urged the government to restore 7B and 7C clauses in the Constitution that block the election of Ahmadis to the National Assembly.

MYC Information Secretary Shaikh Yaqoob told Pakistan Today that though the MYC was a non-electoral alliance, but the religious leaders discussed the possibility of transforming it into an electoral alliance when he pitched the idea of transforming it into a political alliance.

He said that the meeting agreed that MMA was an electoral alliance of mere six parties and there was a need for a broad-based alliance of the religious parties.

He said that over the past years, efforts to revive MMA had failed, as only a steering committee was formed to review the past mistakes and future possibilities.

“The efforts to revive the MMA have suffered a jolt already, as JUI-S chief Samiul Haq has already announced that his party would contest elections from the DPC platform,” he said.

Yaqoob, who contested the NA-120 by-election against Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, said that following the MYC meeting, a follow-up meeting was held in Islamabad, which was attended by JUP chief Dr Abul Khair Zubair, Abdur Rehman Makki and others. “Dr Abul Khair Zubair wanted that a broad-based election alliance of religious parties should be formed as MMA’s revival is bound to fail,” he said.

A religious party leader who attended the MYC meeting told Pakistan Today that “the JUI-F chief’s unwillingness to relinquish the ministries and other perks reflects that the JUI-F leadership wants to continue its relations with the federal government; therefore, the possibility of the revival of the MMA remains elusive”.

The source said that Fazl wanted to remain a part of the federal government, thus hindering the possibility of revival of the MMA. The source elaborated that “we [MYC] wanted to mobilise people against the federal government but Maulana wanted to keep his both hands in the bucket”.

The source said that Fazl was eyeing forming of government either in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) or in Balochistan using the religious votes. “But the religious parties opine that the people at large can’t be fooled all the time,” the source added.

Earlier, the efforts made by the JI and JUI-F to revive the MMA failed, following which the two parties had formed a committee to evolve a consensus.

When contacted, JI General Secretary Liaquat Baloch, who is a member of the committee formed to revive MMA, said that the committee was all set to meet on October 24 (Tuesday).

Terming the difference between the major MMA players serious, he said committees are formed when differences are of serious nature. “But we hope to overcome these differences. Every party has its own views and the committee would look for the possibilities to bridge the gaps,” he said and added that Maulana Samiul Haq of DPC had already vetoed MMA’s revival.

When contacted, Abdullah Gul, a commentator on religious parties, said that MMA’s revival looked beyond comprehension as the military establishment was absent from the scene. “There were multiple factors in the past, which helped MMA’s formation and its continuation. In the given circumstances, it would an uphill task to revive the MMA,” he said.

Gul said that the internal differences between religio-political outfits, lack of trust, absence of support from the military establishment and the departure of General (r) Hamid Gul— the architect of the formation of the alliance and the binding force— were few major hurdles in the MMA’s revival.

“Moreover, the JI lacks a mature political player like Qazi Hussain Ahmed. Sirajul Haq lacks that vision and maturity [to handle Maulana Fazlur Rehman], adding, “the revival is just like the Afghan dialogue which fails to succeed”.