ISLAMABAD - The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leadership has geared up efforts to exert pressure on the PML-N government for a better deal in power sharing at the federal level, The Nation has learnt through sources aware of the developments taking place on this front.
For the slot of the leader of the opposition in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa Assembly which has fallen vacant recently, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leadership seems well poised to grab it with the support of other political parties in the opposition.
At present, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl has strength of 17 members in the KP Assembly while they are having the backing of five MPAs each of Awami National Party and Pakistan People’s Party, both in an alliance with the JUI-F for the upcoming local government elections, a source in the JUI-F revealed.
JUI-F also claimed to have mustered the backing of Qaumi Watan Party, but the sources in the Qaumi Watan Party of Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said no such agreement with JUI Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had so far been signed. The QWP is having 10 MPAs in the KP Assembly and their leaning towards JUI-F would clearly decide the matter in its favour, but if the QWP decides to support Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), there would be a close contest between JUI-F and PML-N for the slot. It is worth mentioning that PML-N was previously holding the slot with the support of JUI-F, its coalition partner. However, the JUI-F has developed some serious differences with its senior coalition partner at the federal level.
The sources aware of the development informed The Nation that in the number game the JUI-F is having an edge over Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz which, after losing a seat in the Swat by-polls and the elevation of Sardar Mehtab Khan Abbasi, former leader of the opposition in the KP Assembly, as the governor, slipped down to the tally of 15 and even if it succeeds in managing to woo the support of the QWP, it would be requiring the support of either ANP or PPP for clinching the slot.
Sources in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz were of the view that the JUI-F was trying to flex muscles in the KP Assembly just to force the PML-N government to meet its demands at the federal level. They expressed the hope that the matter of the leader of the opposition in the restive province would be resolved when both the heads of the coalition partners held a meeting in the near future.
When contacted, the central spokesman for the JUI-F, Jan Achakzai, was seen quite optimistic about clinching the slot of the leader of the opposition in the KP Assembly. He claimed that they had managed the number game.
Answering a question, he said that his party did not see any negative fallout of tiff with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz over the slot of the leader of the opposition in the KP Assembly on their relations at the federal level because, according to him, the provincial matters had no bearing on their policies and politics at the federal level. In this connection, the spokesman for the JUI-F also referred to the by-polls on a Swat seat where both the parties had contested against each other.
Jan Achakzai said that the JUI-F was doing politics of principles. He claimed that there was no flexibility in the party’s stand on the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance. He particularly mentioned his concern over the chapter of the National Internal Security Policy dealing with what he termed unreasonable checks on the functioning of Madaris (seminaries).
To another question about the resignations of two of their ministers from the federal cabinet, Achakzai said that both their ministers had tendered their resignations and now it was up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to accept them or not.
He, however, said that, being a democratic party, they was open to dialogue and ready to hold negotiations with all the political forces in the country, including the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, to resolve the issues on negotiating table.