In a candid assessment, leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, said on Tuesday that politicians were virtually powerless in the country and that the ‘establishment’ wielded actual control.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Express, Maulana Fazl said that Pakistani politicians should realise that no matter how many times they are elected to power, they have virtually no power.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had said that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US Predator strikes hours before a team of government negotiators was to meet the Taliban to kick-start peace talks.
The JUI-F chief, however, cast doubts on this claim. “I’ve no knowledge of these negotiators. There was no confirmation from the Taliban either. The government should disclose the identity of the negotiators who were to meet TTP leaders,” he told Daily Express.
He said the government had launched the peace process without taking tribal elders into confidence. The establishment also tried to create hurdles in the way of peace talks, he added. “The establishment’s analyses are not compatible with ours.”
Asked about the controversy triggered by a statement of the Jamaat-e-Islami chief, Maulana Fazl said that Syed Munawar Hassan should have given a balanced statement about the Taliban and the military.
However, the JUI-F chief endorsed the JI’s demand that the government and not the military’s media arm, the ISPR, should have responded to Munawar Hassan’s statement.
He advised the government to adopt a cautious approach vis-à-vis talks with the Taliban. “The appointment of Mullah Fazlullah as the TTP chief has reversed the process. Now, we will have to wait for peace talks. We’ll have to avoid making wrong experiments,” he added.
Talking about what he called pivotal role of the JUI-F in any peace process, Maulana Fazl said that if the government initiated any peace process while ignoring the JUI-F, the party would consider it as a non-serious effort.
He thanked the Daily Express for reminding him of his party’s national responsibility. “The JUI-F will convene a jirga of tribal elders and clerics to discuss the new situation and chalk out a future course of action,” he said. “I believe that the government can achieve the objective of restoring peace with the help of tribal elders.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2013.