Analysis: Winds of change for Jamaat-e-Islami

Sirajul Haq seems promising and the excitement within the party is palpable.

Iftikhar Firdous April 12, 2014
Sirajul Haq. PHOTO: FILE


With the election of Sirajul Haq as the new Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the hope to build a consolidated platform for religious parties has once again gained popularity within the politico-religious party.

With the reemergence of an Ameer from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa under the current geo-political changes, party leaders believe the JI has a greater role to play in the future. However, more changes within the party ranks are also anticipated.

While few within the JI want to talk about why Munawwar Hassan is out, almost everyone is eager to discuss what the politically adroit Haq is capable of doing. There are hopes that his ascension will have multi-layered effects. Expect outcomes of his leadership include the possible revival of street politics, a careful uniting and cultivation of the vote bank of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal once again, gaining popular support through the JI’s philanthropic wing Al-Khidmat, and a keen eye on developments in Afghanistan.

Haq, who is considered to be comparatively young amongst the Jamaat’s upper cadres, says that he will take along all those who keep Pakistan ahead of their personal agendas. Before he took oath, he told The Express Tribune that all decisions will be first weighed in the scale of Shariah and then views of the masses will also be taken into consideration.

For many, the transition of the leadership back to the northwest is like déjà vu. Qazi Hussain Ahmad, also from K-P, was elected in 1987 at the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The JI leadership thinks Haq’s climb up the Jamaat’s hierarchal ladder cannot be seen as an isolated instance away from the regional conflict, of which is epicenter K-P and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

A history of resistance exists for over 200 years from Bukhara to Burma, as well as precedence of conflicts mostly because of intervention, says Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, the Naib Ameer of JI in K-P. Citing examples right from the times of the Raj to the Soviet adventure and mentioning the present day scenario as the United States is to withdraw from Afghanistan later this year, Khan extrapolates that K-P and Fata are areas that are strategically important, adding that the JI now has a man in command who has a far deeper understanding of the region and its conflict.

While the Jamaat’s political influence is upon the educated middle class, Haq’s ambition is to break the class barriers, insiders believe. He is planning not to restrict the Jamaat membership to a specified class that has always had a soft corner for the party, revealed a source close to Haq, who wished not to be named because this policy is not official.

“It’s the youth he is interested in; all policies are being framed keeping the younger lot in mind. There is a plan to begin two new offices in Peshawar and Lahore to interact with people on social media which is a growing trend these days,” he discloses.

Who will head the JI from K-P is still a matter of consultation for the party.

“After I take oath, I will discuss it with the party’s provincial leadership and then the central leadership,” said Haq before he took oath.

Sources say that the prominent candidates for the top slots of Senior Minister and JI K-P’s Ameer are Inayatullah who also belongs to Dir, and Professor Ibrahim, respectively.

Qazi led the JI for 22 years. Once he was elected, he brought down many of the Jamaat’s idealistic aims to pragmatic realities. Much the same is expected from Haq.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2014.


winston | 7 years ago | Reply

This should not have been in the news, it no news, JI they are all the same, they were against the creation of Pakistan. Now they think its their right to rule Pakistan, read your history people.

bigsaf | 7 years ago | Reply

If Munawar Hasan is out due to his outrageous praise of OBL or Hakimullah Mehsud, the latter causing grief to the Pak military and most likely the reason for departure, then that's a rare good move by JI which should attempt to reel in such extremist sentiments and remove the extremist label it has garnered, that includes members who harboured or took part as Al Qaeda activists.

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