Supporters of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), if there were any, will be disappointed that the congregation of the religious parties of Pakistan has started to falter. One of the key leaders of the alliance, Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Siraj-ul-Haq has announced that he will contest future elections through the platform of his own conservative party JI, signalling a break of JI from the MMA. Without the JI, which was perhaps the most popular- which is not saying much- out of all the parties in the MMA, it seems safe to say that the MMA in the next general elections will be obsolete, if it isn’t already.

The MMA, a political alliance consisting of conservative, Islamist, religious, and far-right parties, was a marriage of reluctant allies that nobody expected to last. One would think far-right Islamist parties would flock to unite for a party which champions conservative Islamist values- but petty squabbling for power has always gotten the worst of politicians. After the MMA was restored in 2017 for the 2018 General Elections, it faced many rumours of internal split and dysfunction in the months leading to the elections, where it performed poorly, gathering only a handful of seats.

With JI’s withdrawal, there are two possibilities; either the MMA will continue under the leadership of JUI-F Chief Fazlur Rehman, or it will break apart. The latter seems more likely. The Pakistani public has never been inclined to vote for Islamist political parties, and the MMA bunch have never made any substantive contribution to Pakistan’s governance. Indeed their priorities have been limited to objecting to women rights’ legislation- a topic Pakistani public have moved past on. These Islamist religious parties have lost relevance and influence the last years - what is troubling is that this vacuum now appears to be replaced by more vigilante kinds of religious parties, which should be a cause of concern in the next General Elections.