- Is MMA an underestimated dark horse?
Picking up from last week’s column that highlighted a form of feudalism and its influence on political maneuvering in the country, let us introduce ourselves to another section of our politics. It has the potential to equally balance the equilibrium of power with feudal politicians, as it has roots deep in the public, particularly the less privileged and deprived ones. To stop guessing, it is all referred to our religious political parties.
Having played an active part in pre- and -partition politics, the religious parties, although never in the spot light, have remained a decisive contributor in the major political outcomes that shaped our political history. Sharing a similar past like almost all parties, the religious parties also gained their strength during dictatorial regimes. At present, however, committed to democracy, the religious parties seem to have shrunk in their strength and influence over the public, at least in their individual capacities. A major reason for that would be the extremist outlook of the parties, combined with their fundamentalist ideologies, things that the establishment and the nation at large for some time have distanced themselves from amid the ongoing war on terror.
The rightists, however, apparently are in the mode of fixing the scenario for themselves in the upcoming general elections 2018. Hence, the restoration of MMA. The decision to revive the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, aka MMA, comes at a critical juncture, as the country is embracing itself for elections. The political temperature is high, and the political parties are actively gearing up for their heated election campaigns, not just in their strongholds but across the country.
MMAs political strength, like it or not, is a reality, and it comes from a large part of our public, thus capable of making it the dark horse in elections 2018
While the media spotlight is focused on three major political parties i.e. the PML-N, the ruling party ready to walk out upon completion of its tenure; the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf), a strong opposition governing KPK; and not to forget the PPP, the ruling political elite in Sind; MMA’s restoration followed by public gatherings, and future election campaigning seems, at least at present, missing the due attention. Whereas the eyes of the media were set on PTIs procession at Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore, and that of the PPP at Liaqatabad in Karachi, MMA exhibited its impressive starter political muscle in Mardan, KPK where thousands gathered in numbers.
Of course the attention of the media centered on the Big Three stands justified, since the primary political competition lies within these parties, however, in the opinion of numerous analysts, no one party this time around will be able to form a simple (two-third) majority in the parliament; a very basic pre-requisite to form government in the center; and hence, for any party to acquire the simple majority, political alliances remain a key factor. And this is where the MMA takes or will take the media’s spotlight, along with many independent candidates.
With a political astute like Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, the ameer of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), in the driving seat, MMA can certainly find itself in a strong position to bargain with the Big Three on its political demands, and agendas.
But does MMA even attract the public anymore? Since the previous tenure of their governance was not very encouraging.
Not to forget, a large part of our population comprises youth, majorly under privileged and lacking education, ending up in religious seminaries (madrassas), and this number could well be in the millions. One may keep calling them extremists or fundamentalists, however, that will not deprive them of their very basic right, as a human and a Pakistani national, to vote, and express their will; just like all the other liberals.
Least convinced by any other political entity or ideology, the MMA will attract these millions in the upcoming general elections. And the many other that share the religious school of thought with the MMA.
While these religious parties, JUI-F, JI, and others, having contested the elections in their individual capacity would have hardly had any convincing share in the parliament, and thus no influence at all on the political picture post general elections 2018, now united under the symbol of Book in the form of MMA are all set to be that single piece of puzzle that could complete the picture.
MMAs political strength, like it or not, is a reality, and it comes from a large part of our public, thus capable of making it the dark horse in elections 2018; of course underestimated for now.
For all who want to form a government in the center, a sought after alliance with the MMA can certainly make the difference to their big political picture at the day’s end.