The cracks within the JU-F – the country’s largest politico-religious party – deepened on Friday as the party’s leadership expelled four of its senior members for “deviating from the party policy” and for “creating party within the party”.
The JUI-F disciplinary committee took action against Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan and Maulana Shuja-ul-Mulk.
According to a party spokesperson, the four leaders were expelled over violating the party discipline. “The committee members – Agha Ayub Shah, Maulana Abdul Wasi, Maulana Abdul Hakim Akbari and others – unanimously took this decision,” the spokesperson added.
“If any of the four leaders clarify their case and apologise for what they have done, then the committee has the right to make a decision in that regard,” the spokesperson added.
Differences were earlier reported between the senior leaders and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who also heads an 11-party opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
However, the crisis came to a head a few days back when Maulana Sherani, who also served as chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), harshly criticized Maulana Fazl and called him “selected” – a word used in derogatory meaning by the PDM to describe Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Talking to reporters on December 22, Sherani also declared the PDM an “unnatural alliance that would soon break up because it has no ideology”. “Everyone [in the alliance] is struggling to come to power. Each party in the opposition alliance has its own set of interests,” he had said.
The JUI-F officials, however, accused the expelled members of “creating a party within the party”.
“It is pre-planned and the government or the establishment could be behind it,” JUI-F’s secretary information and spokesperson Aslam Ghauri told The Express Tribune, saying he was speaking on behalf of JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman.
The JUI-F spokesperson said the disgruntled party members became a pawn in the hands of the powers that be by issuing statements that were not in line with the party’s constitution.
“They have become pawns in a bid to damage the party and discredit the charismatic personality of Maulana Fazl,” Ghauri said. He also accused them of diverting the public attention away from the recent success of the JUI-F in mainstream politics.
Rejecting the “selected” comment, Ghauri said when the expelled members had lost the JUI-F elections in 2019, they had not raised any objection to them.
“But now, all of a sudden, they have started leveling baseless allegations against the party chief and taking a stance against the party’s constitution that some of them had taken part in developing in the first place.”
However, despite his expulsion Mualana Sherani appeared unfazed as he claimed that the expelled leaders are part of the JUI-P and that the JUI-F is just one of the groups of the JUI-P.
Talking to Online in Quetta, Sherani even commended some of the decisions of PM Imran, including the support he gave to labourers and his appeal to people not to be afraid of the pandemic. “These decisions were reasonable but neither religious nor secular parties supported his stance,” he said.
In political parties, Sherani said, no party was based on democracy except the Jamaat-e-Islami.
“The PDM and the establishment will both play a role in creating an environment to divide the country,” Sherani claimed. “They would appear to be at odds with each other but their goal would be the same.”
Sherani admitted that he was holding training sessions for the party members so that they could stay connected and united, fearing otherwise they might join any other party. “This is not a war of politicians but a tension within the institutions,” he said.
The PDM has launched a campaign to dislodge the PTI government. Earlier this month, the alliance gave the government until January 31 to resign, warning that otherwise it will march on Islamabad. The PDM had also announced to hand in en masse resignations from the legislatures by December 31.
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