Fazl seeks MQM-P, GDA support for presidential election

KARACHI: Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and a presidential candidate, visited Bahadurabad and Kingri House on Wednesday to seek support of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Grand Democratic Alliance for the presidential election on Sept 4.

All opposition parties, excluding the Pakistan Peoples Party, have nominated Maulana Fazl as their consensus candidate for the election of president. The PPP has fielded Senator Aitzaz Ahsan as its candidate.

While the chances of success of any of the candidates of the divided opposition are very slim, maulana approached the MQM-P — a coalition partner of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government at the Centre, which has already announced its support for the ruling party’s candidate Arif Alvi — asking its leadership to support him in the presidential election.

The JUI-F chief received warm welcome but no clear-cut ‘yes’

He was warmly welcomed by the MQM-P leadership when he arrived at its Bahadurabad headquarters. He held a meeting with senior leaders Amir Khan, Nasreen Jalil, Kanwar Naveed, Faisal Subzwari and Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar.

“It was my duty to approach political parties to convey my viewpoint,” the JUI-F chief told reporters following the meeting. “The opposition has reposed confidence in me for maintaining a balance in Pakistani politics.”

Maulana Fazl, who had lost the July 25 elections on two National Assembly seats in his hometown of Dera Ismail Khan to PTI, said he expected that the MQM-P would seriously consider his proposal.

To a question, he said that he was still in touch with former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari and hoped that he would succeed in breaking the ice regarding fielding a consensus candidate of all opposition parties.

Speaking on the occasion, Amir Khan of the MQM-P said that his party enjoyed cordial relations with maulana, but it was too late since his party was part of the federal government.

An MQM-P source told Dawn that the JUI-F, when it approached the Muttahida prior to maulana’s visit, was clearly told that the MQM-P could not support him since it had already announced its support for PTI’s Arif Alvi.

The source said that there was nothing wrong in the JUI-F chief’s visit to seek support since it was completely in line with parliamentary and democratic norms and traditions.

While talking to the media after his meeting with Pir Pagara at Kingri House, maulana said: “The GDA chief has assured me that he will put my proposals before his party.”

Pir Pagara was assisted by his brother and PML-F central leader Pir Sadruddin Shah Rashdi and MNA Ghaus Bux Mahar at the meeting.

Maulana, who was accompanied by JUI-F Sindh chief Rashid Mehmood Soomro, Aslam Ghauri and Maulana Abdul Karim Abid, went on to say that Pir Pagara had told him that his candidature for presidency came to his knowledge quite late.

Pir Pagara and maulana exchanged views on political situation in the country and the circumstances due to which the latter emerged as a presidential candidate.

In reply to a question, maulana said PPP and PML-N initially had some differences and he acted as a bridge between them.

“My name was proposed by the opposition as they thought I had friendly ties with former president Asif Zardari. They also think Aitzaz Ahsan is close to me. If PML-N agrees on Aitzaz’s name, a joint candidate can be fielded. On the other hand, we are trying to convince the PPP about me,” he said.

The JUI-F chief added that the PTI was a major party in the National Assembly but it lacked the required majority. “We were not in favour of attending the assembly as we had reservations over the election results but when two major political parties — PML-N and PPP — decided to attend it, we had to revise our decision.”

When asked if Asif Zardari was trying to strike a deal with the government as it was initiating new cases against him, maulana said he would not comment on anything about his friend (Zardari).

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2018

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