Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday reiterated his concerns with the conduct of general elections on Feb. 8, 2024, claiming the “restive” security situation in parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa cast a pall on the process.
“There is no police in Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, and Lakki Marwat,” the former chief of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance alleged at a press conference in Islamabad. “Can the polls be staged in this situation of unrest?” he questioned, adding Balochistan, too, was in a state of turmoil. Calling for “uniformity” of security nationwide, he questioned how successful political campaigns could be conducted in both provinces in the prevailing circumstances.
However, he stressed, this did not mean the party was seeking any delay to the polls, merely a “peaceful environment” for the process.
This isn’t the first time the JUIF chief has raised doubts about the conduct of the upcoming general elections. Earlier this year, he had claimed that it would be difficult to organize elections in the first week of February, as several districts of both KP and Balochistan faced inclement weather that time of year, which would hamper voter turnout. That statement had attracted criticism from his political rivals, who had maintained that elections have occurred on similar dates in the past as well.
Addressing Rehman’s reservations, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Information Secretary Faisal Karim Kundi on Wednesday claimed the JUIF’s leaders concerns stemmed from a “fear” of the public and not the security situation. “Maulana has a government in KP and we have no idea what feasible environment he is looking for,” he said, referring to KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali, who is a relative of Fazl. “People who fear the verdict from the public court do not want elections to take place,” he added.
Maintaining that elections were the sole remedy for the country’s prevailing problems, he reiterated that the nation “believes the chief justice will ensure elections on time.”
In his presser, the JUIF chief also confirmed that his party had inked an electoral alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) for the upcoming polls. He said both parties had formed committees to consider seat adjustments in various constituencies, adding the parties would support each other in KP and Punjab. Recalling the JUIF had already campaigned with the PMLN over the past year, he said he wished to maintain these ties in future.
On the intra-party elections of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)—which saw Gohar Khan elected the party’s new chairman unopposed—Fazl claimed the exercise had proved it was not a “real party” and was comprised of lotas (politicians who shift their loyalties).