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Maulana, Please Sit

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Jamiat ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has extended support to the recently banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), announcing that his party would join the TLP protestors if they decide to hold a long march to Islamabad against killing of their workers. Rehman went on to say, “If Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), an extremist terrorist organisation’ can be allowed space, why is the TLP not being heard.”

The JUI-F chief’s statement reflects that he is trying to use the current situation of the country for political point scoring. While Fazlur Rehman’s use of religion card against his opponents is no surprise, it is unfortunate that he chose to ignore the killing of policemen at the hands of TLP rioters who have been holding the country hostage for the last one week. The head of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) should realise that there is nothing ‘democratic’ about lending support to an extremist group that has waged a war against the state.

Moreover, equating PTM, a civil rights movement, with a banned extremist group reeks of moral depravity. PTM came into being as a result of long-held grievances of Pashtun victims of war on terror and the state’s flawed policies. Workers of the PTM have never engaged in violence despite facing arrests on trumped up charges and various forms of intimidation. The JUI-F chief’s unease with PTM was clear when he expelled MNA Mohsin Dawar from the PDM after picking a fight with him over merger of former FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

As chief of a mainstream political party who also happens to lead an opposition alliance formed to protect democracy in the country, one would expect Fazlur Rehman to display some political maturity and not alienate representatives of ethnic minorities who have been mistreated by the state over the years.

Other PDM parties, especially Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), should clarify as to where they stand on this issue. The opposition parties must distance themselves from Fazlur Rehman’s act of joining hands with an outlawed extremist group and badmouthing a civil rights movement in the process.

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Naya Daur