LAHORE – Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan has refused to attend next meeting of the revived alliance of religio-political parties, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, after refusal of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to invite Jamaat-e-Islami.

Fazl refused to invite the former ally, saying the JUI-F central executive committee had already decided to revive MMA without JI and he could not go against the party decision.  However, HE tried to convince the JUP to attend the meeting and raise the issue during the proceedings on January 7.

“Yes, we suggested Maulana Fazl to invite JI for January 7 meeting but he flatly refused to do so. We assured him that the JUP will remain part of MMA regardless of the decision taken by JI. But he refused to even invite the former partner that hurt us”, said JUP Secretary General Qari Zawar Bahadur, adding that his party would not attending January 7 meeting.  “We hosted the previous meeting in November 2012.

 We invited all former allies including JI and its decision of staying away from that meeting hurt us”, he said, adding that now it was responsibility of the JUI-F, being the host of January 7 meeting, to invite all parties.

“Despite our insistence, Fazl flatly refused to invite JI and now we have no justification to attend the next meeting”, Bahadur remarked.

After exclusion of JI from the MMA, the JUP’s decision of parting ways will be a huge setback for the recently revived alliance.  JUP is approaching other members of the MMA to take them in confidence about the reasons that led to the decision of staying away from the January 7 meeting.

Formed in 2002, the MMA captured majority of seats in the provincial assemblies of the former NWFP and Balochistan besides securing 63 seats in the National Assembly.

It was for the first time in the electoral history of the country that religious parties were able to bag a sizeable chunk of the popular vote.

The success was attributed to the formation of a common platform to contest under a single election symbol and the public resentment created by the US attack on Afghanistan in October 2001.

However, the alliance split on the issue of taking part in the 2008 elections. The JI and JUI-S decided to stay away from the 2008 elections, while the JUI-F contested. This led to the creation of a wide gulf between the JUI-F and JI.