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November 23, 2017

Ideological alliance?


November 23, 2017

Among the many temporary alliances of convenience that are likely to crop up in the run-up to next year’s general elections, the one between the PTI and Maulana Samiul Haq’s JUI-S makes more sense than others. The two parties, as Maulana Samiul Haq said in his press conference announcing the alliance, have many ideological similarities. Both are right-wing political parties, are extremely critical of the ruling party and share a form of extreme hyper-nationalism in their foreign policy views. On top of that, the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been the largest benefactor of Maulana Samiul Haq’s Darul Uloom Haqqania madressah in the province. This decision will come as a blow, though, to the revived MMA which had been counting on the JUI-S being an important part of the coalition. Apparently the JUI-S decided to leave the alliance of religious parties because many of them were still supporting the government of PML-N. That the JI and JUI-F do not have close to the electoral clout of the PTI must surely have played a role in Maulana Samiul Haq’s thinking too. The JUI-S’s own ability to win seats is limited but it can help consolidate the vote for the PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and ensure larger turnouts at its rallies in the province. This is especially so in KP CM Pervaiz Khattak’s constituency of Nowshera, home also to the Darul Uloom Haqqania.
As much political sense as this alliance may make, Imran should still have been wary of giving further mainstream legitimacy to a figure like Maulana Samiul Haq. There is a reason he has long been known by his moniker of ‘father of the Taliban’, his madressah said to have produced so many militants. Even at his press conference announcing the alliance, Maulana Samiul Haq said that other parties that are part of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council would also be allying with the PTI. Since the DPC includes such parties as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and ASWJ, the PTI would do well to immediately disassociate itself

from this coalition. As much as every political party will be trying to secure any possible advantage before the next polls, it should not do so at the risk of empowering such voices. So far, according to Maulana Samiul Haq, the alliance between the PTI and the JUI-S is based only on a vocal agreement. We wait and see whether the PTI decides to take it any further.

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