Saturday March 02, 2024

Fazl’s performance in KP silences his critics

Regardless of the increase or decrease in his vote-bank in the KP since 2018, JUI-F has delivered satisfactorily in the local elections

December 23, 2021
JUI-F Ameer Maulana Fazlur Rehman. File photo
JUI-F Ameer Maulana Fazlur Rehman. File photo

ISLAMABAD: Dubbed as a “jobless politician” by his detractors, Maulana Fazlur Rehman has come out with an impressive performance in partial local elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) although he was personally pushed out of the electoral arena in the 2018 parliamentary polls.

His achievement has inculcated confidence and buoyancy in the opposition parties that is being witnessed for the first time during more than three year rule of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the KP and Center.

After Fazlur Rehman’s rout from his hometown Dera Ismail Khan in 2018 in the race for a federal seat, he has frequently been assigned the label of “jobless politico” by his political opponents and a set of analysts and commentators, who despise his politics.

They have often alleged that since Fazlur Rehman has not got the chairmanship of the parliamentary Kashmir committee after many years to enjoy the perks and privileges attached to the office, he wants to rock the entire democratic system through his machinations and keeps provoking the other opposition parties to enforce his agenda. In this connection, they also refer to his passionate pleas to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) shortly after the 2018 polls not to sit in the new assemblies that have been created by the rigged elections.

However, his apologists disagree and advance the argument that Fazlur Rehman has not been without a political job since 2018. They say despite being a junior partner in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), he heads the multiple opposition alliance. They also say his Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) is the number three largest party in the National Assembly. Besides, his son heads the JUI-F parliamentary party. Now, his son-in-law has got a convincing lead over his rivals to become Peshawar mayor.

Fazlur Rehman was marginalised in the 2018 polls mainly because of his own defeat, but he had been a major political and religious force to be reckoned with. Regardless of the increase or decrease in his vote-bank in the KP since 2018, his party has delivered satisfactorily in the local elections. This might not have been expected by some parties, especially the PTI.

Inside the PDM, Fazlur Rehman has always taken a hard line to move decisively in the anti-government campaign when the PMLN had not been fully sharing his aggressiveness and had been restraining him. When the PPP was in the PDM fold, he had also been trying to restrict the JUI-F chief from taking an extreme line.

As head of the JUI-F and PDM, Fazlur Rehman has always been on the move throughout Pakistan. He is the only senior opposition politician, who has consistently been campaigning against the government through different activities. His solo long march on to Islamabad was a major event in this drive.

The JUI-F’s striking victory in the KP, leaving the PMLN and PPP besides the PTI far behind has been equally rejoiced by the opposition, specifically the PMLN. The PPP, however, has been restrained and reserved.

The performance of the JUI-F and Awami National Party (ANP) has deeply irked and embarrassed the PTI, as these two forces have always attracted the bitterest attacks from a person no less than Prime Minister Imran Khan himself and other top party leaders, who have been subjecting their heads to freakish titles. The JUI-F and ANP, which had separately ruled the KP in the past, had also been extremely critical of the PTI for having sidelined them in the province they have considered their bastion of popular power.

Interestingly, despite being in the PDM fold, the JUI-F and PML-N independently fought the KP local polls, opposing each other’s candidates thus dividing their combined vote-bank. The ANP and PPP, which simultaneously quit or were pushed out of the PMD, also separately contested the local council elections.

The opposition parties’ showing in the local elections would have been better compared to their present performance had they fielded joint candidates, which had resulted in the polling of votes in one basket.

The results of the recent Lahore and Khanewal by-elections were celebrated by the PMLN for the convincing victory of its nominees while the JUI-F’s tally in KP polls has been rejoiced by the PML-N.