fbpx mmnews

JUI-F’s rebel group

Riyatullah Farooqui

The writer is a senior journalist.

In 1997, I was serving as the secretary of information and broadcasting for a militant group and a friendly relationship was established with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. When the 1997 general elections came, four days before the polling, I called Maulana Fazlur Rehman and informed him that his defeat had been decided.

In this regard, Maulana said, “This time no one can defeat me because my popularity in the constituency is extraordinary.” To this, I said, “Maybe that is why it has been decided that the votes will be more than your last election but you will not win.”

The next day Maulana’s called me and said, “I have told President Leghari that I had received reports that regarding my defeated through rigging, and if that happened then its circumstances would not be good. President Leghari refuted those reports and claimed that he had received a report from my constituency that Maulana is at the forefront and he is likely to win.”

Then I said, “I stand by my news, President Leghari may not be aware of the plan.” Then a day before the election, Maulana’s once again called me and said, “Commissioner DI Khan met me today and told me that we have been ordered to ensure your defeat. If you can do something, today is the day to contact Islamabad and Rawalpindi to change the order.”

Maulana did not contact anyone. Elections were held, and Maulana lost by getting ten thousand more votes than in the last election. Immediately after the election, a meeting of the JUI-F was held in DI Khan, which announced that the JUI would consider withdrawing from electoral politics.

Meanwhile, I met Hafiz Hussain Ahmed at a hostel in Islamabad who knew my background. I asked, “Is JUI serious about withdrawing from electoral politics?” Hafiz Hussain replied, “Why do you see this as not serious?” I said, “Because immediately after this announcement, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani received a Pajero vehicle of Balochistan government and the same vehicle you are using.”

Hafiz Sahib got angry and said, “People like you who are backed with agencies can think such nonsense.” He taunted me about the agency’s affiliation because of my militant organization. I interrupted him and said, “How you can taunt me about the agency? Four days before the election, you visited Lahore secretly in a red double cabin car. Let me tell you whose car it was.”

Hafiz Hussain was shocked after my counter-attack. The next day, I was having a one-on-one meeting with Maulana Fazlur Rehman at Jinnah Hostel when suddenly the door opened and Hafiz Sahib entered the room. But as soon as he saw me, he suddenly turned around and left the room.

Maulana Fazl was surprised. When he looked at me with questioning eyes, I told Maulana Fazl not only the details of yesterday’s incident but also who Hafiz Sahib had met in Lahore and what assurance he had given. Both Hafiz Hussain Ahmed and Maulana Sherani were aware of Maulana’s defeat in the 1997 elections and Hafiz Hussain Ahmed had met Nawaz Sharif in Lahore four days before the elections.

In this meeting, Nawaz Sharif was assured that Maulana Fazlur Rehman, his fiercest opponent, would not be in the assembly, due to which the JUI-F parliamentary group would be under our control. JUI-F will prove to be a friendly opposition and this is what happened.

Later, when the MMA was formed under Musharraf, it was Maulana Sherani and Hafiz Hussain Ahmed who kept pressurizing Maulana Fazlur Rehman through lobbying that we can only achieve our success by supporting General Musharraf.

After the MMA was formed, these two JUI-F leaders also emerged as a force in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and gradually added Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan and Mufti Kifayatullah to their group. Thus the group was now present in both provinces: Balochistan and KP.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman endured them for almost twenty years and when that opportunity arose, Maulana Fazlur Rehman sidelined them. Maulana did not need any conspiracy against them. All he did was quietly inform key party members across the country about the reality of this group. When the party election came, the members used the power of their votes to neutralize the entire group.

For a while, the group was shocked but the forces that were backing them still had their demands. The recent fulfillment of these demands by Maulana Sherani has led to a public uprising. The effort was good, but since Sherani has no political consciousness at all, nothing will happen.

Today, JUI workers see Sherani not only as a tool of the establishment but also as pro-Israel gangs. And the situation is that he is also facing opposition from Sherani’s own constituency. The JUI-F disciplinary committee has taken action and expelled the group from the party, which is a wise decision.

But the fate of Mufti Kifayatullah, who has been over-acting in talk shows to prove himself anti-establishment, remains to be seen. Recently, Maulana Sherani told Kifayatullah that the enthusiasm with which you defend Fazlur Rehman on media sometimes makes me doubt that you are loyal to him.

Mufti Kifayatullah’s program was to join the rebel group after he was convinced of its success. If they think that Maulana Fazlur Rehman is not aware of their safe game, then this understanding will soon disappear.