Maulana Fazl ur Rahman

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Maulana Fazl ur Rahman, Intikhab Amir
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)


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Maulana Fazl ur Rahman

Intikhab Amir

Publishing Date: Friday, September 16 2005

Maulana Fazal-ur-Rahman is one of the few amongst the political leaders of Pakistan, who, in addition to the countrywide large public support, wields quite an influence across the borders. The Taliban movement inside Afghanistan, which is considered to be the creation of the madressahs run by Maulana Fazal-ur-Rahman's faction of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI), has restored his political importance within Pakistan.

The amount of influence wielded by the JUI on the Taliban due to its capacity to raise battalions of fighters has given a new dimension to his politics. The Taliban phenomenon, overwhelmingly accepted in areas already influenced by religious thoughts, specially the southern districts of the NWFP, the majority areas of FATA and pockets in Balochistan, has given a boost to the popularity graph of the JUI in these regions.

The hundreds of Madressahs run by the Maulana's religio-political JUI in all the four provinces of the country and in FATA provide him and his party the fuel for electioneering politics.

The JUI's hard core supporters in the rural areas of the NWFP and some of the Pakhtoon dominated areas of Balochistan besides the party's ability to utilize the strength of its Madressahs in elections politics give the JUI an eminence over all the other religio-political parties of the country.

Capitalizing on the political line of action that he inherited from his father, Maulana Mufti Mahmood, Fazalur Rahman's anti-secular politics and opposition to successive military governments equally played an important role in maintaining his public standing at a certain level.

He set up his own faction of JUI after parting ways with the undivided JUI, led by Maulana Darkhawsti, over the issue of extending support to the military regime of General Ziaul Haq. Although the JUI had been a part of the PNA in bringing about the overthrow of Bhutto, it later decided to go against the military regime and actively participated in the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD).

JUI's stand against the sitting military government is in continuation of the party's line of action, which it adopted against the Zia regime. His father, Maulana Mufti Mahmood, who was a graduate from the Darul Uloom, Deoband, set the basis for Fazalur Rahman's political expediency.

Being from a renowned religious family of the Abdulkhel Banyala area, in Dera Ismail Khan district, Maulana Fazalur Rahman inherited from his father mass public support from their native area.

Of all the four general elections that Fazalur Rahman contested since 1988 from his native D.I.Khan's national assembly constituency, NA-18, he won two with convincing margins.

And the two he lost - in 1990 and 1997 - were, as his supporters put it, more because of the engineered results that entrusted heavy mandates to the Sharifs of Lahore on both the occasions.

It was because of the family's mass public support and large vote bank in the D.I.Khan constituency that Maulana Mufti Mahmood was the lone leader in Pakistan who had defeated the then invincible Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in the 1970 general elections.

Later, ZAB dismissed the Maulana Mufti Mahmood led-JUI/NAP coalition government in the NWFP (apart from the coalition government of the two parties in Balochistan) after developing political differences with them.

Maulana Fazlur Rahman's politics, like his father's, has been at odds with the Muslim League. The father was in Jama'at Ulema-i-Hind (Madani group) which shared the views of the Congress on the partition issue.

Fazalur Rahman remained in the camp of the political alliances and parties that were opposed to Nawaz Sharif's League. Only once did he contest the election in alliance with the PML, in 1990, and then too he lost.

However, unlike his father Maulana Mufti Mahmood who earned fame by defeating ZAB in 1970, Fazalur Rahman built his public image by supporting ZAB's daughter Benazir Bhutto during her second stint as the prime minister. His cooperation with the PPP to some extent diminished temporarily his party's image of an anti-secular religio-political entity. His involvement in some financial scandals, specially the charges levelled against him of supplying permits for exporting diesel from Pakistan to Afghanistan, also threw a blot on the party's reputation.

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Maulana Fazl ur Rahman, Intikhab Amir
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)