Relevance of religious parties

The NEWS: The role of the once-important religious parties in Pakistani politics has undergone a transition. Until the early 1990s, all of these parties had some sort of electoral strength which in pockets could prove decisive with some significance at the national political scene too.

The steady erosion in their vote bank has pushed these parties to the margins of the political landscape of the country. For example, the Jamaat-i-Islami is merely a shadow of its former self and the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam has suffered a similar fate. The rest of the religio-political parties also have lost the relevance they once had in the 1970s and ’80s.

The last ditch effort by Qazi Hussain Ahmed to restore Jamaat-i-Islami as the third option vis a vis the People’s Party and the Muslim League-N in the 1997 elections failed miserably. Similarly, the JUI under Fazl-ur-Rehman is only surviving because of its electoral influence in areas like Kohat and Dera Ismael Khan or a couple of seats that it occasionally manages to secure in Balochistan.

Sami ul Haq (JUI-S) or Tahir ul Qadri (founder of Pakistan Awami Tehreek) are only able to play second fiddle to any major party of their choice. However, on their own they could only be a nuisance for the sitting government. Both Haq and Qadri have demonstrated their respective skills quite adroitly in the past. But the method and style of both to fluster the people at the helm are markedly different.


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