Top leaders of six religio-political parties are engaged in hectic efforts to hammer out a deal for the revival of their broken alliance ahead of a crucial meeting next month.
Sympathisers of these parties at more than 12,000 Deobandi madrassahs are also supporting the initiative and are likely to discuss it at a meeting in Lahore on Monday (today).
Officials in these political groups say their leadership is in “close contact” with each other since a meeting to revive the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) ended inconclusively earlier this month. The May 11 meeting in Islamabad was convened as a result of efforts by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
The leaders are scheduled to meet again on June 13 at a madrassah in Lahore and all member groups of the former MMA are apparently hopeful that they would be able to strike a deal this time around.
With the help of intelligence agencies, six religious parties had formed the MMA ahead of the 2002 general elections and were able to form independent and coalition governments in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, respectively.
However, the alliance fell apart in 2007 when the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) decided to boycott the election but the JUI-F did not.
“We are hopeful … a consensus can be evolved at Lahore meeting,” JUI-F information secretary Mufti Abrar told The Express Tribune referring to the June 13th meeting.
He added that Maulana Fazlur Rehman was in constant touch with leaders of other groups, including the JI.
Separately, leaders from the Wafaqul Madaris Al-Arabia (WMA), an umbrella organisation of more than 12,000 Deobandi madrassahs, are holding a meeting in Lahore on Monday.
Though a WMA official told The Express Tribune that it was a routine meeting where madrassah examination issues would be discussed, but insiders say the revival of the MMA may also come up for discussion.
Scholars at Deobandi madrassahs, who pushed Maulana Fazl for taking the initiative, are arguing that the alliance will help political groups put up a fight against growing “extremism” in the Pakistani society.
A JI leader repeated the party’s demand that the JUI-F pull out of the ruling coalition for the success of talks for the revival of the MMA.
Speaking to The Express Tribune by telephone from Lahore, the JI official, however, ruled out the possibility of any breakthrough in the June 13 meeting.
“I think we will have to talk a lot before arriving at a conclusion,” said the official who did not want to be named.
It is hitherto not clear whether or not the JUI-F will quit the government, especially after a meeting between Maulana Fazl with a top leader of the PPP.
A spokesperson for the Maulana Samiul Haq-led faction of JUI, however, refused to be part of any alliance, saying the group was neither invited nor it would participate in the Lahore meeting.
Maulana Yousuf Shah told The Express Tribune that the JUI-S believes the alliance had hurt its politics in the past and there was no need to revive it.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 31st, 2010.