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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Maulana Fazlur Rehman-The man desperate to topple Imran Khan’s govt?

Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi gave Maulana the status of a federal minister for being the chairman of a special committee of the National Assembly on Kashmir. However, he has been sidelined by Imran Khan. What does Maulana really want? Can his political career help us articulate his political aspirations? Read an interesting story!

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) Chief, held a presser along with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

Maulana announced that by December 31, all members of the National and Provincial Assemblies would submit their resignations to their respective party leaders. He said that the Lahore rally on December 13 will be historic and will serve as the last nail in the government’s coffin. If any attempt is made to disrupt the rally, it will be repulsed worse than Multan, he added.

Political commentators believe that parties having no stake in the system—particularly Mulana’s JUI-F and Nawaz’s PML-N— are desperate to dislodge it. The PPP, on the other hand, has been in power in the province since 2007 and seems reluctant to quit.

PDM, without the support of PPP, is unlikely to garner political legitimacy, speculate analysts. However, JUI-F’s head seems to have decided to do and die this time. He is certain to convince both Nawaz and Zardari to revolt against the system, sources claim.

Rehman has remained relevant throughout his political career. This is for the first time that he has been sidelined.

Maulana’s political career

Rehman was elected as a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan in 1988 Pakistani general elections for the first time from D.I. Khan Seat. In 1990, he ran for the seat of the National Assembly of Pakistan but did not win the election.

Rehman was elected as a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan in 1993 for the second time on Islamic Jamhoori Mahaz ticket from D.I. Khan. He was appointed as the chairman of the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs in the National Assembly of Pakistan.

In 1997, he ran for the seat of the National Assembly but did not win the election. However, Rehman was elected as a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan in 2002 for the third time on the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal ticket. He served as the leader of the opposition from 2004 to 2007.

Rehman ran for the seat of the National Assembly of Pakistan in 2008 for the sixth time on Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal ticket from two constituencies, NA-24, D.I. Khan which is his traditional constituency and NA-26, Bannu. In September 2008, he was elected chairman of the Kashmir Committee of the National Assembly of Pakistan.

In May 2014, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave him the status of a federal minister for being the chairman of a special committee of the National Assembly on Kashmir. In August 2017, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi gave him the same status again. Upon the dissolution of the National Assembly on the expiration of its term on 31 May 2018, he ceased to hold the status of a federal minister.

Rehman ran for the seat of the National Assembly of Pakistan in 2018 from Dera Ismail Khan’s constituencies, NA38 and NA 39 but did not win.

Read more: When All Else Failed, Maulana Fazlur Rehman played Religion Card

On 27 August 2018, several opposition parties including Pakistan Muslim League (N), nominated him as a candidate in the 2018 presidential election but could not win.

Maulana’s attempts to dislodge the government

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 the 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 the 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.

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 a 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 the 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.

Read more: Imran Khan, Fazlur Rehman & Religion Card Threat: A Story Going Nowhere

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.

Political commentators, experts, and opinion-makers believe that Maulana will not be able to oust the current government from the office. Given the PPP’s compromised position, Maulana may launch another long march to challenge the government in 2021.