Save your breath, PML-Q!
PML-Q's criticism of PPP's stance on the religious right is hypocritical; how typical of Pakistani politics!
The PML-Q’s disapproval of the present regime’s tactics at placating the ‘religious right’ clearly indicates that politics in Pakistan is replete with irony. Caustic remarks were made with reference to the PPP’s inability to sustain support for progressive and moderate elements within the country and instead succumbing to pressure from religious extremists. Some PML-Q leaders have also gone to the extent of saying that there is no fundamental difference between the current leadership and the autocratic Zia regime.
This anti-government tirade appears a tad insincere keeping in mind the fact that this ‘religious right’ were once empowered by the PML-Q supported government of General Musharraf. Musharraf wanted to thwart the influence of his main opposition parties (ie the PPP and the PML-N) and therefore decided to strengthen the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). The MMA was a six-party Islamic alliance led by the JI and the JUI-F (Fazlur Rehman’s faction of the JUI) which went on to form a government in NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and become Musharraf’s main coalition partner in Balochistan through the elections of 2002.
In NWFP, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal engineered aggressive Islamisation policies. Musharraf continued to egg on these ‘religious right’ factions to secure political ends by derailing several reforms (including amendments to the blasphemy law). This consolidated their influence in internal politics.
As a consequence of this, jihadi groups obtained a staggering monopoly. Many have claimed that JI madrassas in the then North West Frontier Province were surreptitiously linked with jihadi organisations. More significantly, Fazlur Rehman’s party made no bones about supporting the Afghan Taliban when in power.
These circumstances developed as a direct consequence of military patronage. The PML-Q’s unwavering support for General Musharraf during this period is testament of its hypocrisy in challenging the PPP’s support for the ‘religious right’.
It is thus essential to establish political ideals that are neither contradictory nor easily compromised by political negotiation. This applies to both the PPP and the PML-Q.