LAHORE - While Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has repeatedly called for “immediate” elections as it feels the PML-N is politically down after the disqualification of Mian Nawaz Sharif as prime minister, its coalition partner in KP – Jamaat-i-Islami – wants the assemblies to complete their term and polls held on time.

The mandated five-year term of the assemblies will complete in June next year, and under the Constitution the elections should be held two to three months after that, depending upon completion of their term or dissolution before time.

“Elections should be held on time. There’s no justification for anyone not to do this”, said JI Amir Senator Sirajul Haq in an interview to The Nation at his Mansoora office.

Asked about the common values between the PTI and the JI that made them allies, the JI chief clarified that although the two parties have been in the coalition after the 2013 elections, they “don’t have an alliance” at the national level. At the country level, he said, the PTI has its own point of view and the JI its own policies.

Sirajul Haq recalled that the PTI had staged a sit-in in Islamabad in 2014, but the JI stayed away. Likewise, the PTI blocked the federal capital after the Panama Papers revelations, but the JI preferred to move the Supreme Court (as a result of which Nawaz Sharif was disqualified as prime minister).

“We take all decisions on case to case basis”.

Responding to a question as to what forced the religious parties to make fresh efforts to revive the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, an alliance that had been abandoned long ago, he said the components of the dormant coalition want that all adherents to the Islamic values and Pakistan ideology should have the same stance on important national issues. “The gulf between the religious parties may be a tragedy but moving together will be their natural desire”.

According to him, the religious parties have realised that they had received a serious setback in the 2013 elections.

Questioned as to how would it be possible for JI to part ways with the PTI, and for the JUI-F and Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith to say goodbye to the PML-N to join the MMA, Senator Siraj said as of now there was no final announcement for the revival of the MMA and a committee has been constituted to examine its feasibility.

‘Against whom would the proposed alliance work?’ the JI chief was asked. “Against poverty, unemployment, price hike, lawlessness and the depression in society”, replied the leader from Dir (KP), who was elected as head of the JI in 2014 for a term of five years. “The mosque and pulpit can play an important role in addressing these problems,” Siraj added.

He said parties believing in the 1973 Constitution, Islamic ideology and a clean and green Pakistan should gather on the same platform.

Interestingly, he did not name any political party the coalition-in-the-offing would work against.

The JI chief also refused to offer comments on the Milli Muslim League and Tehrik Lubbaik Pakistan, two new right-wing parties that emerged in the Sept 17 by-election on NA-120 (Lahore) – bagging more votes than the JI’s candidate. (This national assembly seat, which fell vacant after the disqualification of Mr Sharif in the Panama Papers case, has been won back by Kalsoom Nawaz but the performance of the two debutants was beyond anybody’s expectations).

“It’s not necessary that I should offer my comments on all subjects”, said the JI Ameer.

He complained that although the PML-N got three chances to rule the country, it did not follow the Constitution and failed to stamp out the interest-based economic system. “Their democracy revolves around a single family”, he said about Sharifs without naming them.

About the lessons that the JI learnt from the disappointing performance of its candidate in NA-120, Senator Sirajul Haq said “we failed to mobilise workers otherwise we had tremendous goodwill in the constituency”.

He further said that the JI candidate could not reach out to voters and also did not make the kind of investment the rival contestants had made.

Despite such a poor showing the JI leader defended his party’s participation in this by-election. “We wanted to give our workers a message that election was the only way to enforce Islamic system. Had we boycotted it, we would have received a greater loss, like we did in the past by boycotting various polls”.

The by-election, he said, provided the JI an opportunity to assess its political standing and rectify its weaknesses.

In response to a question, Senator Siraj said there was no threat to the democratic system and the army engaged on eastern and western borders could not afford to give itself more responsibilities. He was of the view that all institutions should work within prescribed limits, without any side trying to conquer the other.