LAHORE - Defeat in elections is part of politics, and those in this field may have to face such setbacks many times in their life.

But MMA President Maulana Fazlur Rehman had to face, one after the other, three embarrassments over the past six weeks. The latest one was on Tuesday when he lost presidential election to PTI’s Arif Alvi.

The Maulana, who has the track record of working with parties of differing ideologies in the past, doesn’t feel demoralised and is determined to continue playing his role in the future. Many think that the MMA chief, who is also head of his faction of the JUI, should continue thinking about plans for the country otherwise his idle mind may become the proverbial devil’s workshop.

The JUI-F head faced the first humiliation on July 25 when he lost both the NA seats he was a candidate from. The defeat was beyond his expectations, and it was because of this defeat that he had to vacate his luxurious Parliamentary Lodges residence after 13 years.

Then, a furious JUI-F chief conceived another idea to keep him in political limelight. He tried to convince other parties to boycott the new National Assembly on the pretext that elections were rigged and the new legislature had no representative character.

At a conference in Islamabad the PML-N and other parties, apparently, agreed with the Maulana. But, as they say, there is no final word in politics they reviewed their decision after a short while. Not only they did not boycott the house they did not wear even the black armbands on the first day, which manifested that they were not with the Maulana on this point. They said they would protest against the alleged rigging but would let the parliament perform its functions.

The opposition parties had realised that despite rigging charges they had considerable representation in parliament and could play an important role.

Even the Jamaat-i-Islami, a component of the MMA, did not support Maulana’s point of view, and argued that the PTI government should be given time to honour its commitments made to the people.

This, without exaggeration, had isolated Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Then came the presidential election. Maulana Fazl started efforts to bring a joint opposition candidate against PTI’s Dr Arif Alvi, hoping that such a move would defeat the ruling party’s nominee.

Efforts were made to field Mian Shehbaz Sharif as a joint opposition candidate.

But the PPP rejected the PML-N president’s nomination on the ground that he was not acceptable to their leadership. The reason was that Shehbaz Sharif had always been very critical of Mr Zardari because of his alleged involvement in corrupt practices. As Punjab chief minister Shehbaz had repeatedly said that he would recover the looted money even from Mr Zardari’s belly. “Change my name if I fail to honour my word”, said Shehbaz in many a speech at various places.

Some opposition parties tried to bridge the gulf between the PPP and the PML-N for the sake of a greater national cause. But Asif Zardari was not willing to back Shehbaz at any cost.

The former president insisted that Aitzaz was a better candidate for the country’s top constitutional office and he would not be withdrawn.

The PML- N had its own reservations about Aitzaz because of his utterances against the Sharifs, especially Begum Kalsoom’s ailment.

Relying on his ties with both the parties, Maulana Fazl tried his best to make both sides realise the requirements of the situation and agree to field a joint candidate. However, he did not succeed in his mission.

Now the PML-N tried to outsmart the PPP by proposing that Maulana Fazl be adopted as consensus candidate. The leadership was pretty confident that the PPP would not reject the Maulana as presidential candidate in view of the JUI-F’s chief’s closeness to Mr Asif Zardari.

However, this proved to be a miscalculation.

Mr Zardari refused to support the Maulana, saying the PPP candidate Aitzaz was better than him in all respects. It was also argued that the election of a religious leader as president of Pakistan would not send a positive message about Pakistan at the international level.

Thus, the Maulana and Aitzaz remained in the field, dividing the anti-PTI vote.

Dr Arif Alvi won the election and the Maulana had to face a third defeat in six months.



Fazl faces third defeat in six weeks