Fazl says JUI-F still wants ‘immediate elections’ even after Khan’s ouster


ISLAMABAD, APR 18: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that he plans on conveying to the new coalition setup his desire for “immediate” elections, just days after an alliance of then opposition parties ousted former prime minister Imran Khan through a no-confidence motion and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif took oath as the country’s new premier.

Fazl, who had been at the forefront of the former joint opposition’s endeavours to end the Khan government, was addressing his party workers in Islamabad when he said that the new government would operate for a year at the most.

“In this new setup, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam has its own identity and we are telling them (coalition partners) that we still want elections immediately,” he added.

Referring to Khan but not naming him, Fazl continued: “Even though he is gone and we sent him packing, it is still our responsibility to return to the people the amanat that we struggled for.”

Fazl suggested electoral reforms as a solution to any reservations that coalition partners in the new setup may have with regards to the electoral system and possibilities of rigging.

He went on to say that “there is a limit to expediency. Continuing to stay in power unnecessarily would not be the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s stance”.

“And we stick to our stance,” he said, adding that the JUI-F would be engaging the new coalition setup on the subject.

Fazl’s remarks have come amid reports that newly elected PM Shehbaz would be announcing his cabinet soon.

Yesterday, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb told Dawn that “members of the federal cabinet are taking oath tomorrow (Monday).” She added all allied parties were being accommodated in the cabinet, including the JUI-F and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P).

However, a source in the government told Dawn that Fazl was not joining the federal cabinet but assured that he would remain a government ally. It has also been learnt that the JUI-F had demanded the presidential slot and expressed displeasure over giving one ministry each to the Awami National Party (ANP) and independent MNA Mohsin Dawar.

Fazl conveyed his displeasure to PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, another key members in coalition setup, and questioned as to why two ministries were given to those parties or persons who had contested elections against JUI-F, according to the Dawn report. The report said Fazl conveyed to Zardari that the ANP and Dawar would give a dent to his party in the next elections too.

According to the report, Zardari made it clear that he could not back out of his promises made with the allied parties as he was a “guarantor” in the alliance, which was formed against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

Zardari said his party did not want to take ministries unless all allied parties were accommodated.

Earlier, he had hinted that his party would not be taking any ministries in PM Shehbaz’s cabinet.

“I don’t think we are taking any ministries,” he told journalists outside the National Assembly after PPP’s Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was elected NA speaker on Saturday.