–MMA not unified, effective opposition due to absence of senior leadership, says spokesperson
–MMA to hold ‘Million March’ in Muzaffargarh on 23rd
ISLAMABAD: The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of religious political parties, which was revived before the 2018 general election almost after a decade not only failed to perform well in the election but it has also miserably flopped in playing the role of an effective opposition due to conflicting political approaches and bitter memory of the past.
Well-placed sources told Pakistan Today that Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), a major allied party in the alliance after Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), has yet to accept the alliance whole-heartedly as its workers detested the leadership’s decision of joining the alliance at the time when JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman refused to accept JI leader as MMA head.
They said that the revival of the MMA was not a well-planned move rather there were some compelling reasons that forced the parties to join hands half-heartedly. Sources said that there is great disenchantment among the ranks of JI regarding Fazl’s role as they believe that he is using the MMA platform to promote his personal agenda instead of working for the cause of the alliance.
Sources further said that the fast-widening gap between the leadership of the two main political parties could be judged from the fact that when Fazl was staging rallies after the acquittal of Aasia Bibi by the Supreme Court (SC), JI chief Sirajul Haq left for Sudan, while party’s Secretary General Liaqat Baloch went to Makkah for performing pilgrimage. Similarly, Jamiat Ahle Hadith (JAH) chief Senator Professor Sajid Mir and Islami Tehrik chief Syed Sajid Ali Naqvi also could not be seen in the major events alongside Fazl.
Sources revealed that JI leadership’s main concern is that Fazl is promoting his own son MNA Maulana Asadullah and is little bothered about the policy of the alliance and the issues facing the general public. On the other hand, the JI chief could be seen addressing various programmes with no participation from the allied leadership that further exposed the fissure within the already fragile alliance.
The recently-held by-poll in Lahore proved that the MMA’s popularity has further declined as the MMA-backed JI candidate got only a few votes.
A senior leader of JUI-F, on the condition of anonymity, said that it is true that Fazl is fast losing his popularity even in his home constituency in Dera Ismail Khan mainly due to his consistent politics of opposition of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Prime Minister Imran Khan, who enjoyed great popularity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). He said that Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur, who defeated the JUI-F chief in the general elections, is also working hard in his constituency to further consolidate his position there.
The leader admitted that the religious parties, especially JUI-F and JI, had a bitter history and trust-deficit, hence it is always challenging to develop trust-based relations in such situations due to which the religious alliance failed to create an impact in the political spectrum. He said that the JUI-F leadership is frustrated by Fazl’s decision of nominating his son for a National Assembly (NA) set in the presence of senior party leaders in the house but they could not oppose it.
Talking to Pakistan Today, MMA spokesperson Shah Ovais Noorani said that there is no rift within the religious alliance, however, he accepted the fact that they did not run a unified campaign and are not playing an effective opposition role because of the absence of the senior leadership of the allied parties.
He said that Sirajul Haq was in Sudan, Professor Sajid Mir was in Saudi Arabia and Sajid Ali Naqvi was in Iran due to which they faced problems as they could not participate in the MMA protest demonstrations.
However, Ovais claimed that the situation would be cleared further in January 2019 when a meeting of the MMA’s central body be held where it would be finally decided as to how to work with the opposition parties.
Responding to a question regarding the reservations over Fazl’s role, he said that there is no issue at all as MMA is holding a ‘Million March’ in Muzaffargarh on December 23 which itself would answer many questions.
It is worth noting that MMA was formed to contest the 2002 elections and earned the nickname Mulla-Military Alliance by the critics and secured a good majority to form a government in KP. However, the alliance remained united for a short period of time as JUI-F left the alliance over disagreement on the issue of boycotting the general election held in 2008. Later, JUI-F became an integral part of the government led by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and refused to revive the alliance in 2012 as it called for opposing PPP.