Maulana Fazlur Rehman meets Shehbaz Sharif: What is its significance?

Maulana Fazal met Shehbaz Sharif after holding a meeting with PPP senior leadership in Karachi. Will Shehbaz, establishment’s blue-eyed man, ever support any anti-government campaign after Eid? What is PML-N’s senior leadership up to? Read this detailed story to understand the significance of Maulana’s meeting with Shehbaz.

Fazlur Rehman meets Shehbaz

Shehbaz Sharif, President Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), reportedly agreed to hold a Rahbar Committee meeting after Eid to send the incumbent government home. A meeting between the two politicians took place on Monday when Fazl visited the PML-N leader at his Model Town home to discuss the political situation of the government and devise a strategy against the PTI-led government. As Fazlur Rehman meets Shehbaz Sharif, there speculations if the PML-N shall ultimately stand by the PPP.

The one-to-one meeting between the two leaders lasted for an hour-and-a-half. Both opposition leaders said the agenda to send the government packing would be presented in the APC meeting.

Slamming the government on failing to control the petrol, flour and other crises, Shehbaz said that the PTI government had given nothing to the people of Pakistan. He said that it was the right time to get rid of the government and that the Azadi March held by Fazl earlier this year, was a big political show.

Earlier a meeting between PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and a three-member PML-N delegation took place at Bilawal House, Lahore. The PML-N delegation included Iqbal, Khawaja Saad Rafique, and Ayaz Sadiq, while PPP’s Kaira, Chaudhry Manzoor, and Hasan Murtaza also attended the meeting. Shehbaz Sharif reportedly refused to see PPP chairman citing health issues.

Read More: High Treason: Should Maulana Fazlur Rehman be tried under article 6?

Waseem Badami, a prominent Pakistani journalist, told Dr. Moeed Pirzada in his talk-show, Hard Talk Pakistan, that “the opposition was going to do nothing”. Badami believes that there is nothing substantial the opposition can at this moment. “It may remain in the news for a day or so but it is not going to have any impact in the long run,” he said.

Maulana meets PPP leadership

Earlier this month, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman visited Bilawal House to hold a meeting with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari for over one hour and a half. The meeting came as a ‘pleasant surprise’ for PPP workers and voters who saw Mr Zardari in his first political engagement after his release by the National Accountability Bureau on the high court orders in December 2019, ending speculation about his health mainly over social media.

Read More: What did Ch. Pervez Elahi offer to Maulana Fazlur Rehman to end protest in Islamabad?

Though there was no word or press release from the JUI-F about the meeting nor any of the side invited reporters for interaction after the sitting, a statement issued by the PPP suggested that the three leaders agreed on launching a joint struggle, revival of opposition activities and challenging the PTI government on different fronts, including proposed review of the 18th Amendment and formation of the National Finance Commission (NFC).

Maulana gets brother appointed as DC in Karachi

Soon after the meeting between Maulana and Asif Ali Zardari, the Sindh government posted Ziaur Rehman, the brother of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief, as the deputy commissioner of Karachi’s Central district by transferring Farhan Ghani, an ex-PCS officer in the same grade. It remains unclear as to how an official of the KP government managed to bring himself at the disposal of the Sindh government against the service rules.

However, the federal government on Monday returned the services of Ziaur Rehman, the brother of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who the Sindh government had last week appointed deputy commissioner of a key Karachi district, back to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

A notification issued on Monday said: “Ziaur Rehman, a BS-19 officer of Provincial Management Service (PMS), [the] government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, presently posted in [the] government of Sindh, is transferred and his services are repatriated to the KP government with immediate effect.”

Maulana’s attempts to send government home

It is not for the first time that Maulana wants to get rid of the government. Back in 2018, after losing the election, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, President of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), threatened to disrupt the political process in the country if the results of General Elections 2018 were not declared “null and void”.

The MMA president chaired the MPC along with the president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad. MPC rejected the General Election 2018 and demanded ‘free and fair’ re-election across the country. “The All Parties Conference has completely rejected the July 25, 2018 elections with consensus,” announced Rehman while addressing the media after the PML-N-hosted conference concluded. “We do not consider this election to be the mandate of the public,” said defeated MMA president.

However, he was not fully supported by other opposition political parties. For example, the PPP said that it does not reject the results completely rather it has questions about the electoral process.  Later on, the PPP Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that his party rejects election results but, at the same time, the PPP was going to play a role of an exemplary opposition in the national assembly. Since the PPP managed to get a simple majority in Sindh and it was interested to form a government in the province. Hence, PPP could not afford to boycott the National Assembly.

Read More: Is Maulana Fazlur Rehman coming back to Islamabad?

Then again in 2019, the JUI-F’s chief announced to topple the government if the premier and his cabinet do not step down. He also said that it was the last protest in Quetta and there was going to be freedom march in the months to come. He said: “This is our last long march and next will be our Freedom March in Islamabad if the PTI government does not resign in August. After holding 14 successful million marches across the country, today we have arrived in Quetta and this sea of people shows what the people of Pakistan want.”

After consultation with the opposition parties, to get rid of PTI, Maulana postponed his proposed Azadi March from August to October. Initially, it was 27th Oct which Pakistan celebrates every year as Kashmir Solidarity Day. After criticism from all walks of life, Maulana changed the date and announced to lead a march in Islamabad on 31st October.

Neither PPP nor PML-N supported the idea of dharna and urged Maulana to keep the gathering limited to a protest. After 13-days long Dharna in the federal capital, the JUI-F’s chief announced to call it off.

Read More: Did government offer senate chairmanship to Maulana Fazlur Rehman?

Shehbaz is long known for his pro-establishment views in his party. There have been some reports suggesting his differences with Nawaz and Maryam over the nature of the party’s relationship with the country’s powerful establishment. It is yet to be seen whether Shehbaz will lead any anti-government campaign after Eid or not.

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