JUI-F expresses ‘serious reservations’ on PTI, shies away from joining any alliance

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ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that the party’s Majlis-e-Shura — top decision-making body — has decided against becoming part of any alliance for now, while expressing “serious reservations” over the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) amid reports that the two parties were on a verge of joining hands against the coalition government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Fazl’s party has been holding meetings with the former ruling party after they both termed the February 8 elections “rigged” and also voiced shared concerns about the federal government’s policies on the economy and the menace of terrorism in the country.

The Imran Khan-founded party and JUI-F have jointly opposed the Centre’s newly-announced anti-militancy operation, Azm-e-Istehkam, raising concerns that parliament was not taken into confidence on the matter.

In a meeting with senior PTI leader Asad Qaiser last week, Fazl agreed that the military operation was not the solution to the problems.

They also agreed on fulfilling the role of opposition in the National Assembly together, and also constituting a political committee to address various issues between them and formulate a political strategy.
The two parties have also maintained a rigid stance on the February 8 general elections, demanding fresh and transparent elections to “restore” democracy in the country.

However, Fazl on Sunday announced that his party’s top decision-making body has decided to continue the “struggle” exclusively from its own platform instead of waiting to become a part of any alliance.

“Our stance and reservations against PTI are very serious,” he said adding that the decision-making body had reviewed JUI-F’s meetings with other political parties and declared it nothing more than a “political process”.

He said that the committee observed that the incumbent government in the Centre does not have the “ability” to address its reservations.

‘PTI lacks consistency’
Speaking about a proposed dialogue, the seasoned politician said that his party welcomed PTI if they wanted to hold talks.

However, he said that the party still “lacked consistency”, he added.

“Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) chief ruled out an alliance with JUI-F. These are two contradictory opinions which we are finding difficult to establish a stance on,” Fazl said while referring to the possible dialogue with PTI and the reluctance of its allied party to enter talks.

The JUI-F chief further stated that different delegations hold consultation on behalf of the jailed PTI founder but the party hadn’t yet decided on a team for holding the dialogue.

He said that his party did not have any hesitation in creating a “better political environment” and it stood by the positive approach towards its political rivals.

The politician called on the PTI and SIC to remove the confusion regarding their position on holding a dialogue.

‘Operation Azm-e-Istehkam inconsistent’
Turning his guns towards the federal government, Fazl, who was the chief of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — the multi-party alliance mainly consisting of PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif issued clarification on the military action but the “people don’t know who to trust”.

Even the “Operation Azm-e-Istehkam” was “inconsistent”, he added.

The government’s decision to launch a new operation was taken during a meeting of the Central Apex Committee on National Action Plan (NAP) earlier this month, which was approved with the consensus of all stakeholders including provinces, Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

“The entire nation stands with the army if it is the matter of country’s defence,” Fazl said, but asked why the incidents of terrorism spiked 10 times despite several military operations.

Fazl calls for ‘unbiased polls’ in country
He slammed his former ally PML-N, saying that JUI-F could not accept the February 8 polls results at any cost.

The JUI-F is among those opposing the results of the polls, which saw country’s two major parties — PML-N and PPP — along with other political parties, forming a coalition government in the Centre.

Fazl once again called for “unbiased” nationwide elections, but termed the United States resolution calling for a probe into alleged irregularities in Pakistan’s elections an interference.

JUI-F believes the US should stay away from Pakistan’s affairs, he added.