Naveed Aman Khan
JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rahman is a scion of Mufti Mehmood who served as the
CM KP (erstwhile NWFP). Fazal began his political career as the Secretary General of JUI (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam) in 1980 at the age of 27 after the death of his father Mufti Mahmood who was the leader of JUI before his death.
JUI later split into two factions in the mid-1980s with the JUI-F, the main faction led by Fazal. He was elected MNA in 1988 general election for the first time. He then made connections with Afghan Taliban. He ran for an NA seat in 1990 general election for the second time, but couldn’t win. He was again elected MNA in 1993 general election on Islamic Jamhoori Mahaz ticket. He was appointed as the Chairman of the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs in National Assembly during Benazir Bhutto’s second government. However, Maulana lost MNA election in 1997 general election. He led several anti-American protests and pro-Taliban rallies in major cities of Pakistan following the war in Afghanistan in 2001. He criticized the then US President George Bush and threatened to launch jihad against USA if the bombings against Taliban continued. He also criticized and warned Pervaiz Musharraf that he would be overthrown if he continued to support the “War on Terror”. In October 2001, Pervaiz Musharraf placed Maulana under house arrest for inciting the citizens against the armed forces of Pakistan and for trying to overthrow the government. Later in March 2002, he was set free and the cases against him were withdrawn.
He was elected MNA in 2002 general election for the third time on MMA ticket and became a potential candidate for the premiership, however was not appointed. He served as the Leader of the Opposition from 2004 to 2007. In the 2008 general election Maulana won for the sixth time on MMA ticket and later appointed Chairman of the Kashmir Committee of the Lower House of Parliament.
In May 2014, the then Premier Nawaz Sharif gave him the status of a federal minister for being the Chairman of Special Committee of the National Assembly on Kashmir. Upon the dissolution of the National Assembly on 31 May 2018, he ceased to hold the status of a federal minister. In March 2018, he became head of the (hitherto defunct) MMA. In the 2018 presidential election, several opposition parties including PML-N, pitted him against PTI-nominee Arif Alvi in presidential election, but he could score only 184 electoral votes, thus behind Arif Alvi who scored 352 and ahead of Aitzaz Ahsan of PPP who bagged 124 votes.
Maulana was generally considered a pro-Taliban politician in Pakistan, known for his close ties to Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. However, he called himself a moderate with no connections with the Islamic extremists and religious hardliners. He also called for imposition of Shariah Law in Pakistan in the past, but later formed alliances with secular political parties. He is also known for changing his loyalty and alliances with the political parties in Pakistan.
Recently he demanded PTI government to step down or face a massive number of one and half million protesters ‘March’ to kick IK out. “It would be better if the rulers quit of their own, if they don’t, we will ‘March’ on Islamabad and won’t call off our movement until they resign”. Maulana did not accept the results of last year’s general elections as he claims they were rigged. He wants re-election in the country and the political and religious parties will decide the time-frame of election. Thousands of JUI-F activists participated in the party’s rally in Quetta along with many stalwarts of the Party like Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri.
He believes that the public’s mandate was stolen on July 25 last year because some powers wanted to plant some particular people. He believes that the country is being pushed into American slavery. It looks that JUI-F will confront the PTI government’s flawed policies. Undoubtedly, the ‘Million March’ in Peshawar was a success but the PTI government accused his party of making seminary students participate in the event. The country has decided to include seminary students into the mainstream, but at the same time they are being criticized and not being given the right to vote or participate in political gatherings. He claims that devaluation of the Rupee has destroyed the economy and the flawed policies have wiped out opportunities of financial assistance by friendly countries.
Over four-month long D-Chowk Dharna of IK in 2014 and more than a ‘Million March’ of Maulana in October 2019 will have same intensity on political scene. Both agitations enjoyed same level of support from their ‘friends’. Patrons and supporters of PTI sit-in and JUI F Azadi March are the same. Using the element of religion IK for his rule chanted slogan of Riasat-e-Madina also. Religious elements are once again being exploited and used. Prior to recent JUI-F ‘Azadi March’ JI, PAT and other religious extremists have been ‘mobilized’. This ‘Azadi March’ will teach a lesson to IK. This power show is a litmus test of Maulana’s and IK’s political influence and power. It will also clear 2023 post-election political scenario. This ‘Azadi March’ is being patronized by the same friends because such move is impossible without their consent and cooperation as that of PTI 2014 sit-in. This looks another ‘change’ in the jackpot?
— The writer is book ambassador, columnist, political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.