Fazl reluctant to try his luck in Bannu by-poll

  • Analyst says family-centered politics, resentment among people led to JUI-F chief’s defeat

ISLAMABAD: Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman is reportedly reluctant over trying his luck in Bannu by-poll again as a defeat in the election again would be a major embarrassment for Fazl and MMA and may threaten his political career.

The 2018 general elections had proved a nightmare for Maulana Fazlur Rehman as he failed to land in the National Assembly after suffering a crushing defeat on both of his home constituencies at the hands of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) opponents.

Known as a smart and shrewd politician, Fazl remained part of almost every government, however, this time around, the situation changed for him altogether after the PTI emerged as a leading party in the country to form government in the center, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), besides a coalition government in Balochistan.

Though all political parties voiced concerns over the election results, Fazlur Rehman, who is also the chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), was the first leader to declare the election ‘rigged’ and summoned an All Parties Conference (APC) instantly.

Fazl, who remained a minister for Kashmir Affairs for over a decade and enjoyed enormous perks and privileges but did nothing for the public interest, has a chance to try his luck again to reach the the parliament by contesting in the by-poll from NA-35 Bannu. The seat will be open to contest after PTI will vacate it since he has decided to keep his Mianwali seat.

However, some people are suggesting that if he loses again, it would bring further embarrassment to the party and to him.

Rehmat Mehsud, a senior journalist, told Pakistan Today that Fazlur Rehman revived the MMA and got a leading role in the religious parties’ alliance, however, his dream to secure considerable seats could not materialise mainly because of his self-centered approach.

He said that the MMA president fielded his family, two brothers and a son, on various constituencies in Dera Ismail Khan (DIK) and Tank, which proved counter-productive. Besides that, he did nothing despite being part of many governments as the people in Tank don’t have clean drinking water in their area.

To a question, he said that the MMA president can contest the by-election from NA-35 only after getting full assurance of his success. Otherwise, he will not be up for contesting again because if he faces defeat again, it would bury his politics and badly damage his narrative of rigging.

Sources told Pakistan Today that Akram Khan Durrani offered the JUI-F chief to contest election from NA-35 but the party is still hesitant to field him from there because a defeat could end his political career.

They said that in the APC’s charter of demands, it was also included that all the parties would support a runner-up candidate and no other party in the alliance would field their candidate in by-polls.

Sources also said that Fazlur Rehman played an important role in inclusion of this demand as on a number of seats, his party remained a runner-up, which could benefit MMA.

When contacted, Fazl’s brother, Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman, told Pakistan Today that the party has yet to decide its candidate for NA-35 constituency. He, however, confirmed that the MMA president did not agree to the idea of fielding him in the by-poll in the constituency.