Progress Forces in Pakistan Up to Isolate JI

As the upcoming general elections get heat, the secular and progressive forces in Pakistan intensify their efforts to cast off the overwhelming influence of JI -e-Islami (JI) influence in the policy formulation process of Pakistan.

“We will prefer alliance with the MMA sans JI in the upcoming elections,” says a political strategist of the Pakistan Muslim League maintaining that such a step will prove to be a green signal for the secular and progressive forces of the country whose support it needs for the completion of reformation process underway since last half-a-decade.

PML leadership has keenly observed the attitude of Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman, the head of the largest component of the MMA, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, towards regional affairs. “Though his conduct can’t be regarded as reasonable but he is taken a sensible man in the ruling camp,” says a source privy to the top guns in government.

The alliance of six religio-political parties of the country has played a crucial role in providing stability of the political system since the general elections of 2002, which sealed its fate by supporting the LFO.

With General Pervez Musharraf retaining military uniform in presidency, the ruling camp flourished as several factions of Muslim League merged alongside Pakistan Millat Party, headed by the ex-president of Pakistan, Sardar Farooq Leghari.

The slot of opposition leader was bestowed on Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman in the centre; the MMA has been ruling supreme in the NWFP while it was given a prominent share in Balochistan government. The ruling party, too, ignored the reservations of its important ally MQM vis-Ã? -vis the function of MMA’s Nizamat in Karachi till the LB polls changed results last year.

Though the JI has fewer seats in the Parliament, the influence it casts due to Qazi’s leading role in the politics of MMA, is too immense to be neutralized as far as JI remains the part of the alliance of religious parties.

JI has been spoiler of the very system that the MMA made an essential part. The National Security Council, a passion of Pervez Musharraf, could function properly while the strict interpretation of Islam in the matters of diplomacy, education and gender relations in the society proved a concrete hurdles to the completion of structural reforms to their logical ends.

Qazi proved a persistent problem for the proper application of the Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½enlightened moderation’ policy of General Pervez Musharraf in the realms of foreign and domestic policies.

On the other hand, the prospects of JI’s entrance into the camp of Alliance for Restoration of Democracy, a grouping of fifteen quasi-secular and progressive political parties of the country, are also getting thin due to Benazir’s serious reservations regarding MMA’s policies towards women and minorities.

The MMA that has already suffered setbacks during the last LB polls and Senate elections mostly due to JI ‘s conservative attitude towards politics will be seeking now to enhance its position through standing by the secular and progressive forces of the country.

The differences within MMA indicate a widening gap between JI and rest of components due to JI’s obstinate and uncompromising behaviour in coalition affairs. Qazi bitterly opposed Akram Durrani’s participation in National Security Council and he is also planning to lay siege on Islamabad that most of the coalition partners approve, not.

While the Brelvi clerics, called Mashaikh, are already in the ruling camp, the Deobandis, Shia’s and Wahabis have emerged as the most politicized entities in Pakistan after the onset of War on Terror making Middle East as its main target.

The viewpoint that JI is the main hurdle in Pakistan’s integration into global age is not only confined to the secular and progressive political parties of the country but the faith scholars are also apprehensive of dominant role of JI in the policy formulation of the state.

“JI’s ideology has heavily penetrated into curricula of the public institutions which has provided basis for narrow-minded approach towards Shariah and its role in guiding the daily affairs of people in a Muslim-majority country like Pakistan,” recently said the Chairman of Islamic Ideology Council of Pakistan in a seminar of COSS, the Council of Social Sciences, in Islamabad.

“Shariah is a law that can’t remain static if the society has to move ahead,” he said adding that the doors of Ijtehad can’t be closed only for the reason that JI’s leadership does not want so.

It is noteworthy that the government has announced removal of the subject of Islamic Studies from the syllabus of primary schools across the country with a stated objective of modernising the education system.

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