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EDITORIAL: Politics is a fickle business. JUI-F (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Pakistan) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman headed the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a nine-party alliance which ousted the PTI government in a no-confidence motion and formed a multi-party alliance government.

Since his party’s poor showing in the February 8 general elections, the Maulana has changed tack. He came to the National Assembly on April 29, two months after taking oath as an MNA on February 9, and railed against his perceived detractors.

Accusing the bureaucracy and the establishment of manipulating election results, he asked his former PDM partners, the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) and PPP (Pakistan People’s Party), to hand over government to the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf), his former nemesis, if it really won the largest number of seats in the election. Lest his assertions could be shrugged off as empty rhetoric, he announced his plan for a ‘million march’ starting with a protest rally in Karachi on May 2, and in Peshawar on May 9, with the warning that “if anyone tries to stop it, he will invite trouble for himself.”

Addressing a huge rally in Karachi, Maulana Rehman reiterated most of his earlier allegations, calling the assemblies fake not only “because the elections were fraudulent, or the vote count was bogus, but also because the seats were decided through sale and purchase.”

Adding a new factor to his grievances, he went on to aver that his party was denied its real mandate by the establishment since the US was angry over his engagement with Gaza Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, as well as the Afghan Taliban. His critics though say he is a slippery customer seeking accommodation with the ruling setup by using pressure tactics.

But considering his ever hardening stance, how can he become part of an ‘arrangement’ whose legality he refuses to accept? Be that as it may, it is difficult to disagree with his contention that the Feb 8 elections were rigged. Even some prominent members of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s party have publicly been casting doubts on its outcome.

Some previous governments also came to power through manipulation, but none faced as serious legitimacy questions as has the present one. Not all of the JUI-F leader’s claims may be true, nevertheless there is plenty of verifiable evidence supporting his principal argument and disputation.

A six-party coalition of opposition parties has already launched a countrywide movement under the banner of Tahafuz Ayeen-i-Pakistan (protecting the Constitution of Pakistan) for the rule of law. The Maulana has an unmatched street power.

He can mobilise thousands of supporters and his madressah students at a moment’s notice. In case he decides to join the opposition alliance, that can produce serious disorder and chaos. It is hard to predict how and where the fight will end.

But it will create more political instability, increasing the severity of the present economic crisis. It is imperative therefore that all involved try and find a way out of the present standoff before things get out of control.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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