The revival of religious parties’ alliance under the banner of the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) is on the cards. Among the parties included in the alliance are the Jammat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), which have been at loggerheads on a range of issues for quite some time now.
The fact that the leaders of these and other parties have agreed to work towards forming an alliance out of nowhere indicates that there are some hidden factors at play.
The political developments of the past few days should be enough for all stakeholders to realise that political alliances made under pressure to fulfill temporary agendas do not get to see the light of the day. The fate of the merger of Mutahidda Qaumi Movement — Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) is a case in point. In a matter of days, leaders of both parties have gone back on their initial announcements. Both Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Kamal are now claiming that the security establishment was behind the move. Therefore, it goes without saying that any external effort to bring together religious parties for the revival of MMA will similarly remain futile.
Even if there are no external factors at play in efforts to revive the MMA, it is important to note that religious parties were hardly anywhere to be seen in the last general elections or the recent by-elections, even in areas once considered their strongholds. Based on their recent performance, therefore, religious parties are unlikely to pose any serious challenge in the electoral arena.
Instead of reviving a formation that has little to its credit in terms of governance, the parties set to come together in the alliance will do well to do some introspection. When they had been established, these parties — at least the Jamiat-e-Ulema — served as platforms for debate on a range of issues of public concern. Their leaders did not shy away from studying and debating ideas from across the political spectrum. Now, these parties exist mostly as personality cults or as groups of men removed from the exigencies of everyday life in the country.
Whether or not the revival of the MMA will take place is yet to be seen. However, it is quite clear that the constituent parties are in no position to pose any serious electoral challenge. One cannot help but say that zero plus zero is after all equal to zero. *
Published in Daily Times, November 15th 2017.