KARACHI: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F chief Fazlur Rehman hit out at the establishment and politicians backed by foreign governments in a speech at his party’s rally in Karachi on Friday.
“The establishment has turned Pakistan into a security state. Pakistan’s resources don’t go to people but for the establishment’s extravagances” he said. “Over 60% of the budget still goes to the military.”
He also noted that the party was not against talks with the Taliban if it helped resolve problems in Afghanistan, but that it rejected any involvement by foreign governments in Pakistani politics.
His theme was largely focused on the establishment and its creations, as he claimed the party could win the elections if there was no state interference, and that politicians were brought forward by the establishment and backed by foreign governments to carry out their agenda.
Rehman also noted that branding ‘bearded men with turbans’ or seminary students as extremists was unfair, and that they reserved the right to brand as extremists those who carried out atrocities, such as the foreign forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
JUI-F general secretary Abdul Ghafoor Haideri claimed, “If the government opens the Nato supply routes without consulting the people, the JUI-F will not let them go through and will burn all the containers.” He highlighted that his party was not implicated in the list of those alleged to have taken money from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as Asghar Khan’s petition in the Supreme Court claims, or in the National Reconciliation Ordinance beneficiaries. He also hit out at the “secular lobby” that wants to damage seminaries.
There was a large contingent of clerics and provincial party leaders at the event.
Lal Masjid deputy prayer leader Maulana Amir Siddiq also spoke at the rally. In his speech, Siddiq hit out at “politicians who used Lal Masjid’s name for votes and to obtain power”. This had been their criticism for Maulana Fazlur Rehman as well, but Rehman took notice and had tried to resolve issues during the mosque crisis in 2007 as well.
Siddiq criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in veiled words, saying the country did not need a “tsunami” but had to “unite under the Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him) banner to bring [about] an Islamic system.” “People who live in palaces or are gaddi nasheens cannot bring in an Islamic revolution,” he cried.
Siddiq blamed the country’s agencies and “elements” for the events that had led to the siege of the mosque in Islamabad in 2007 and said the siege had not harmed “secular forces” but was a blow to “religious forces”.
Throughout the afternoon, JUI-F leaders called on the crowd to chant ‘Naara-e-Takbeer’ and vowed that the country would witness an “Islamic revolution led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman”.
Other speakers also commented on the PTI. One speaker recalled PTI’s Javed Hashmi’s speech about being a rebel. “We are rebels of rebels,” he said, claiming that, the “JUI-F’s ocean has absorbed the PTI’s ‘rebel tsunami’”.
Others, including MNA Laiq Khan Swati, criticised the PTI, saying that the “revolution had already come”. According to Swati, “People who dance, sing and lie cannot bring a revolution. Revolutions are brought by those who have the Holy Quran in their hearts.” He also said that the “revolution will come from the madrassa”.
The JUI-F claimed that it had placed 70,000 chairs at the venue, which was being managed by 5,000 of its volunteers who wore badges proclaiming them as ‘Ansarul Islam’. They carried striped sticks in the JUI-F’s signature black-and-white colours.
According to the police, over 1,000 officers were on duty at the venue, a ground opposite Mazaar-e-Quaid on Shahrae Quaideen, which has recently played host to events by Imran Khan’s PTI and the All Pakistan Muslim League, which is led by former president, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
Senator Haji Ghulam Ali referred to the venue in his speech, saying, “Girls used to dance here. Now you can see the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) flag is aloft.” The volunteers struggled with crowd control when a horde of party supporters surged towards the stage and press area during Asr prayers. It was hard to estimate the number of people at the rally, but the ground was packed with supporters carrying JUI-F flags.
Mufti Kifayatullah, a JUI-F MPA in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, took a more dramatic approach. He made the crowd rise, hold hands and vow to God that they would shed their own blood for the sake of a revolution.
Wafaqul Madaris al Arabia’s Hanif Jallandhri also echoed the criticism of the PTI that was a running theme among speakers. Jallandhri hit out at “those steeped in western culture, trying to change Pakistan’s qibla in the name of tsunamis”. He asked the crowd to respond if they wanted “Islam or roshan khayali”. Islam or enlightenment.
The JUI-F rally also presented a number of resolutions, calling on the government to review foreign policy and to pay compensation for those killed in violence in Karachi, against the division of Sindh and KESC management, and for Aafia Siddiqui’s release.
Speakers railed and recited poetry against the US and western culture, ignoring that their own leader was the subject of a US Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks that noted his lobbying to then-US ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson to make him prime minister. Poetry at the rally also called for the Ahmadiyya community to repent. Others criticised those who believe in socialism and communism, and Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali was alleged to have supported the countries that engaged in war in Afghanistan – then the USSR and the US.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2012.
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