Changing traditions: Sirajul Haq picked to head JI

Published: March 31, 2014
Sirajul Haq, 51, (L) will be the fifth Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami. The incumbent Ameer, Syed Munawar Hasan, (R) was elected in 2009 and his term will end in April, this year. PHOTO: FILE

Sirajul Haq, 51, (L) will be the fifth Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami. The incumbent Ameer, Syed Munawar Hasan, (R) was elected in 2009 and his term will end in April, this year. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE / KARACHI: For the first time in the history of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan a sitting Ameer (chief) failed to clinch a second term in office despite being in the race. Syed Munawar Hasan will be succeeded by Sirajul Haq after JI’s electoral college picked him on Sunday to head the party for the next five years.

In all, there were three nominees: Syed Munawar Hasan, Sirajul Haq and Liaquat Baloch. Sirajul Haq polled the maximum number of votes and was declared the winner. The electoral college for the Ameer’s election comprises 31,301 Arakeen (members) of the party. Of them, ballot papers were issued to 30,759. The election committee received 25,533 filled-out ballots on Sunday. Thus the overall voter turnout was 85%.

The result was announced by the election committee head, Abdul Hafeez Ahmed, at a crowded press conference at the JI headquarters in Mansoora. He said the election was conducted through secret ballot according to the procedure. “The five-year term of Syed Munawar Hasan will end in April,” he said.

According to the JI election manifesto, the Markazi Majlas-e-Shoora nominates three candidates for the slot of Ameer although the Arakeen can also vote for other than the three nominees. Traditionally, the Shoora members nominate three candidates and then ballot papers are sent out to the Arakeen across the country. The Arakeen vote for candidates of their choice and return the ballots to the Shoora. The candidate clinching the maximum number of votes is declared winner.

Sirajul Haq, 51, will be the fifth Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami. The incumbent Ameer, Syed Munawar Hasan, was elected in 2009 and his term will end in April, this year.

Political observers see Sirajul Haq’s election as a ‘major shift’ in the party’s 73-year-old electoral tradition. “This is, no doubt, a significant shift in the JI. Never in the past had the Arakeen elected another nominee if the sitting Ameer was also in the race,” analyst Sajjad Mir told The Express Tribune. He attributed this change to “the significant change in the mindset” of the party as multiple external factors now influence its Arakeen.

Some JI officials also admitted that it was a departure from the party’s traditions. “From the time of Maulana Abulala Maududi till Qazi Hussain Ahmed, none of the sitting Ameer was in contest with his successor,” said JI’s Karachi chapter spokesperson Zahid Askari.

However, JI’s Sindh chapter Ameer Dr Merajul Huda Siddiqui interpreted it in a different way. “May be the Arakeen honoured the sitting Ameer’s desire even though it was turned down by the Shoora,” Huda told The Express Tribune referring to Munawar Hasan’s pre-election request that he should not be considered for a second term.

Notwithstanding, political observers say that Sirajul Haq’s election provides grounds for optimism in the JI members for reviving the party’s ostensibly diminishing political character to the centre-right political groups.

Sirajul Haq was born in December 1962 in the Samar Bagh area of Lower Dir district. He remained the Nazim-e-Aala of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the student wing of JI, from 1988 to 1991.  Immensely popular in his constituency and known for his modesty among friends and foes alike, Sirajul Haq has been successful in parliamentary politics unlike his predecessors. He was elected to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhaw Assembly in the 2002 election from the platform of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and was made finance minister in the provincial cabinet. However, he resigned in protest against the deadly US drone strike on a Madrassa in the Damadolla area of Bajaur Agency. His party boycotted the 2008 election. In 2013, he again contested on JI’s ticket and was elected to the assembly. Currently, he is a senior minister and minister for finance in the provincial cabinet.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2014.

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Reader Comments (25)

    Mar 31, 2014 - 4:05AM

    Munawar lost due to refusing to calling Shaheed the Army men died in war of terror and on being seen as too much of a taliban supporter ……..plain and simple. The blow back of this stupid move forced the jamaat which has remained a B team of the establishment for the last 50 years to dump him in the waste basket.


  • PeaceMonger
    Mar 31, 2014 - 6:10AM

    Very sensible decision. Mr.Haq is a very competent man. He thinks before he speaks.Recommend

  • Miran
    Mar 31, 2014 - 6:38AM

    For Pakistanis, they both look very fair-skinned.


  • String theory.
    Mar 31, 2014 - 6:49AM

    I have seen such a democratic move first in Pakistan since I inception ..

    It is such alien thing to Pakistan they did it.. I wonder y they did that??? R they not like PML-N and PPP rules,


  • Saqib
    Mar 31, 2014 - 6:51AM

    Simple proof that its a democratic party unlike Zardari PPP where only family leads while the part leaders follow like sheep.Compare the character of the leaders of this party with Bilawal ali zardari,his girlfriends & daddy’s services to the poor people of Sind. The only problem is the new party leader must change his political portfolio to adapt with the current times.


  • Wajid
    Mar 31, 2014 - 7:31AM

    Well done JI. Although I not like religious parties to part in politics as I believe it increase intolerance and bring more blood shed on the name of religion. And JI is party that support Jihad and war in prescience of regular army is wired to me.

    However That democratic step ot giant leap is great in Pak. I think non religious parties r even worst doing for Pak. SO having JI is not bad at all in Pak if we make comparison with liberal political parties.


    Mar 31, 2014 - 7:43AM



  • Mar 31, 2014 - 8:13AM

    An honest man.


  • truth
    Mar 31, 2014 - 8:46AM

    it will not make difference who is elected…the policy of supporting terrorism and giving full support to TTP will continue…after the late Zia-ul-Haq TTP is the last hope for implementing its agenda,,


  • Mar 31, 2014 - 9:54AM

    At least the Jamat e Islami is miles ahead of the PPP, PMLN, MQM, PMLQ in free and fair democratic elections. The PPP, PMLN, and PMLQ are family limited entities and the MQM cum PTI controlled by a demagogue. Salams


  • Betel-Q8
    Mar 31, 2014 - 10:21AM

    I hope that the new chief behaves in a little more responsible way, than his predecessor.


  • imran
    Mar 31, 2014 - 10:48AM

    This shows strong internal party system, serving Ameer removed democratically by party Arakeen. No such other example exists in Pakistan’s politics


  • Wali khan
    Mar 31, 2014 - 11:14AM

    This change will have great democratic impact on Pak s political clouds.


  • AZ
    Mar 31, 2014 - 11:21AM

    He is no doubt honest man. Recommend

  • Slangy
    Mar 31, 2014 - 11:31AM

    Close down the Heera Mandi’s.


  • Slangy
    Mar 31, 2014 - 11:32AM


    Maybe they use fair and handsome skin whitening cream.


  • Khan Gul
    Mar 31, 2014 - 12:18PM

    They are fair-skinned because they have a lot of noor emanating from their noorani facesRecommend

  • Mar 31, 2014 - 12:34PM

    ” known for his modesty among friends and foes alike” this sums it all! He is indeed the most honest parlimentarian and JI has set an example for all the dictatorship parties


  • TruthSeeker
    Mar 31, 2014 - 12:36PM


    What a ridiculous statement.. Go to KPK or Gilgit-Baltistan and nearly every person Pakistani there is extremely fair-skinned. Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Mar 31, 2014 - 1:06PM

    Looks like this time good choice by JI. Yes, he is a soft spoken person and not like MH who use to become hyper and followed total ideology of Taliban. His controversial replies on who is Shaheed and rape victims brought his downfall. Let us see what approach new ameer takes on most important issues now facing our country.


  • Pakistani
    Mar 31, 2014 - 1:49PM

    He may be honest and all the lyrical being waxed on him, but it is jamaat e islami after all. The bane of Pakistan, the flag bearer of extremism/ terrorism in Pakistan, the torch bearer of mullahism in Pakistan and above all the Pakistan haters and main opposition to creation of Pakistan. While a country like Bangladesh is banning them, we still accommodate them in our polity.


  • Abbas
    Mar 31, 2014 - 4:46PM

    every honest person would admit that Jamaat e Islami is only democratic and best political party in Pakistan. you can’t imagine such transition in other party


  • saleem
    Apr 1, 2014 - 1:59PM

    To add to my comments already published, there is nothing democratic about this B team, from Tufail’s selection right down to Siraj, every leader of this party has been put up due to the strategic requirements of the establishment


  • Sameer
    Apr 7, 2014 - 9:07PM

    This is a great example for democracy lover that the JI is the only democratic political party in Pakistan. No group politics no corruption no debate …. looser is happy and winner is worried.


  • ibn e adam
    May 24, 2014 - 1:12PM

    munawwar hassan and siraj ul haq both are honest and good persons . salute to jamat e islami for this…Recommend

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