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January 7, 2015
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JI, JUI-F defile national consensus

National

January 7, 2015

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ISLAMABAD: The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) spoiled the consensus, usually witnessed during the passage of successive constitutional amendments, by abstaining from the parliamentary proceedings meant for creation of military courts for trial of terrorists.
But unfortunately they had not picked up the courage to reject the amendments in the Constitution and the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) with this kind of intensity in the three All Parties’ Conferences (APCs), held in the wake of the December 16 bombing of the Peshawar Army Public School.
Even by staying away from the proceedings the JUI-F and JI acted sheepishly otherwise they would have shown guts, appeared on the scene, opposed the amendments loudly and voted against them. Their strong opposition required their presence in the two Houses.
The exclusion of small parliamentary strength of the JUI-F and JI hardly made any significant difference to the overall support that the amendments in the Constitution and the PAA got. However, their backing was important for the sake of parliamentary unanimity and accord. The support of at least 228 MPs in the National Assembly was required while as many as 247 members voted for the amendments with none among those present opposing.
In the case of the JUI-F, its ‘defiant’ policy becomes all the more important as it is an ally of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the federal government. Every parliamentary party including even the PML-N dubbed the formation of the military courts as a bitter pill that had to be swallowed in the extraordinary circumstances.
After the JUI-F’s change of mind, its coalition with the PML-N seems in doldrums. “We remained safe from committing this sin” (backing the amendments), Fazlur Rehman said later. “When we were holding talks with the government team, the amendments were moved in the National Assembly despite the fact that we have got indications that our reservations are being

removed.”
He sounded ominous when he announced that the next line of action would be decided in a meeting with the leaders of the major establishments of the religious seminaries, spread all over Pakistan. But he did not rule out for the moment whether a religious parties’ alliance like the defunct Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) will be reinvented. The MMA had died an unceremonious death simply because of clashing policies of the JUI-F and the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Since the 2013 general elections, Fazlur Rehman has been ferociously fighting with everyone and every party that has been trying to pull Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif’s leg and conspiring against the government. In fact, he has been a bigger defender of the government than itself.
After making relentless efforts to woo the JUI-F and seeing that it was not forthcoming and that its tactics would unnecessarily delay the approval of the amendments, the government decided to go ahead with their approval as it faced no problem in having the requisite numbers to clear the bills in the two Houses.
Obviously, the boycott of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of the National Assembly since long had nothing to do with abstention of the JUI-F and Jamaat-e-Islami. Even the six PTI defectors also did not attend the proceedings. They would have invited a disqualification reference had they voted on the constitutional amendment against the party direction, as prescribed in the Constitution.
The JI and JUI-F are the only two religious-political parties that have representation in the parliament. Ironically, both opposed amendments in the Constitution and the PAA.

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