Party versus Jamaat

Party versus Jamaat
Tahir Ali September 28, 2014
http://tns.thenews.com.pk/party-versus-jamaat/#.VCw2s6zOXp8

The job of mediation has brought Sirajul Haq to the centre of mainstream politics, shown his worldview as distinct from the previous amir and exposed the fissures within the party

In the current political stalemate triggered by the Inqilab and Azadi dharnas, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sirajul Haq, the newly elected agile amir, has taken up the role of a mediator and fire-fighter reminding of the political elder Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. Facilitating a dialogue between the seemingly uncompromising Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri and the government is a commendable effort has earned him goodwill among the masses. But his efforts are unlikely to succeed for several reasons.

He says he has the solution wherein every stakeholder in the conflict will get something without compromising on their demands. But there are problems here. He has not been authorised by any party in the conflict for he has no stance on certain important aspects of the crisis or hasn’t made it public even if he has.

Does Haq believe the elections were massively rigged as Imran Khan alleges? What is his position on the PM’s resignation? Does he support Khan’s strategy of removing the Khan government through street power or his call for civil disobedience? Does he accept the current crisis is a tussle between forces of status quo or change, or a fight between two viewpoints?

Without having any stand on these and other issues is tantamount to adopting a strategy and a line of action without first having formed a viewpoint on the issue. Unless one has a clear agenda and terms of references for the dialogue and has the courage to shun unwarranted humility and courtesy and neglect party interests that bar you from displeasing or taking sides with or against someone, one cannot be a successful mediator.

Haq, it seems, is in favour of accepting some demands of Khan but is convinced his strategy is wrong. While Haq has made the resignation of PM conditional with the findings of the judicial commission, he hasn’t made his stance public.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could even be an ally of the PPP. The current Jamaat is not interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from assemblies.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could even be an ally of the PPP in future. Khan’s calling the two big parties as corrupt and hands in glove with each other, his being soft on militancy and hard on military operation, and strategy of dharna/mob agitation has similarities with the Jamaat under the late Qazi Husain Ahmad, the former amir of JI. But the current Jamaat is not interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from assemblies. Yet it is not opposing Imran Khan.

Some believe JI and PTI are polls apart as far as their objectives, strategies, style and preferences are concerned and dub their coalition as a marriage of convenience. JI workers oppose Khan for his style and strategy privately, though they are reluctant to say it on record for they don’t want to forego their alliance and assembly seats and ministries for that matter.

“Jamaat’s efforts for compromise are laudable but it needs to part ways with the PTI especially after the revelations of Javed Hashmi because JI is for constitutionalism and democracy while PTI is indulging in anarchic politics. Besides, PTI is a liberal party arranging music nights in dharnas while JI is a religious party that observes Hijab day. It doesn’t want, and rightly so, to lose its ministries and assembly seats,” says a political worker wishing anonymity.

Haq, it seems, may also push the Jamaat away from its jihadi paradigm of the 1990s and the radical tendencies of its previous Amir Munawar Hasan to its original preaching, democratic, constitutional paradigm of Syed Abul Ala Maududi era. Maududi never approved of jihad by private outfits without a formal declaration of war by the state.

Even though Haq was embarrassed by Khan when his suggestion to the prime minister of recounting in ten constituencies was disowned by Khan, he can still try to save both Khan and PTI from committing political suicide and the country from economic, social and political threats and losses.

Sirajul Haq also has to decide whether JI is an Islamic movement or a political party. The demands, preferences and strategies of the two are invariably distinct and often conflicting. As an Islamic movement, the entire nation is its audience, so it cannot be a party in a political tussle. As a political party, others are its rivals and it has to take sides and compete with them for its political survival.

Though JI has failed to become a popular political/electoral force, it has had a huge influence on the society, politics and national priorities. In its endeavours to become a popular force, it lost its identity as an ideological religious movement and could not become a big party either. It is because even though Pakistanis respect its social services — JI’s Al Khidmat Foundation is doing commendable work for the temporarily displaced persons in KP — they are not ready to support it as a political party.

Tahir Ali
The author is an academic and a freelance columnist. He blogs at tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com.
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ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE SENT TO THE NEWS

Mediators in plenty but Confusion galore
Or Appeasement galore

By Tahir Ali

The current political stalemate triggered by the Inqilab and Azadi Dharnas would have long been solved by now had the parties/politicians, including Jamat-e-Islami (JI) and its Amir Sirajul Haq, who are mediating between the federal government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, preferred national interests over their political concerns and united the nation against the wrongdoers.

Politics is a game of possibilities and an endeavour to gain power. An ally in politics today could be a rival tomorrow. It is not clear who will be the ultimate beneficiary or loser of the crisis but every party/leader hopes of filling the vacuum created by the failure of one party in the conflict or the other. JI too, like other political parties, is entitled thus to hope for the best. When all –government, political-religious parties, media and other stakeholders- are only doing what is beneficial to them, JI current stance seems ambiguous but realistic.

It is tragic there is no fair/bold mediator in the country these days who could call a spade a spade. Mr Haq, the newly elected agile Amir, has taken up the role of mediator and fire-fighter like Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. Facilitating a dialogue between the seemingly uncompromising Imran Khan (IK) and Tahirul Qadri and the government is a commendable effort which has earned him goodwill among the masses but his effort are unlikely to succeed for several reasons.

He says he has the solution wherein every stakeholder in the conflict will be given a face-saving without compromising on his demands. But there are problems here. He has not been authorised by any party in the conflict for he has no stance on certain important aspects of the crisis or hasn’t made it public if he has any.

In its present shape IK and Pakistan Tehreek-e -Insaf (PTI) both represent a viewpoint and a strategy. The nation needs guidance and clear-cut stand on some issues. Is IK correct in both stand and strategy? If no, he must be opposed and the government supported. If yes, he must be supported and the government opposed. Certain politicians, including Mr Haq, are ambiguous in their stances for they don’t want to annoy one or the other player in the conflict. But though it is bad to have a wrong stand, it is worse to have none either.

Mr Haq hasn’t given his viewpoint on the issue and extent of rigging in election. Does he believe the elections were massively rigged as IK alleges or vice versa? Were the election commission, caretaker governments, returning officers and higher judiciary, Nawaz Sharif, media houses etc involved in rigging or is IK wrong? What is his position on PM resignation? Is IK’s policy/strategy of removing the NS government through street power or his call for civil disobedience, asking for non-payment of taxes and services’ bills correct or wrong or right? Does he accept the current crisis is a tussle between forces of statusquo or change, as IK says, or a fight between two viewpoints: one represented by earlier Taliban and now IK and Qadri –that state institutions are incapable/corrupt so they need to be changed with might (gun in Taliban’s strategy and mob agitation in IK and Qadri strategy) – and two, that this strategy is flawed, will entail chaos and that change should/can be brought only through constitutional and democratic means? He says dialogue is the only solution but what if one side doesn’t believe in it (IK says I won’t wrap up the dharna unless PM Nawaz resigns)? Is it right to equate and treat at par the state and non-state actors both during talks with Taliban and now in Dharna imbroglio as was done by JI? Is it right to remain silent when non-state actors violate law and their commitments and criticise the government when it arrests the violators of law and attackers on parliament? Is it just to say that arrests by government harm the dialogue process but the dialogue is never threatened when the other side attacks the state installations and security personnel? Can a man be an accuser and judge simultaneously? Can someone be condemned or removed merely on an allegation? Does he accept IK’s take on total collapse of state institutions? Does he accept or doubt the London plan or that local/ foreign hands are behind the dharnas? Also, how will change and reform occur –through constitutional means of votes and parliament legislation or by extra-constitutional methods of mob power or the ‘third umpire’? What is to be done if talks and dialogue fail? Shouldn’t the parties collectively oppose the side which is bent on an anti-democratic/extra constitutional agenda and strategy? Is it right to use religion for politics? Do good ends justify bad means or means must also be fair?

Without having any stands on these and other issues is tantamount to adopting a strategy and a line of action without first having formed a viewpoint on an issue or putting the cart ahead of a bullock. Unless one has a clear agenda on, and terms of references for, the dialogue and has the courage to shun unwarranted humility and courtesy and neglect party interests that bar you from displeasing or taking sides with or against someone, one cannot be a successful mediator.
.
At present, political expediency is being preferred over demands of national solidarity and constitutionalism. The nation just cannot endure the anarchy, political instability and the constitutional depravity which is at hand if the confrontation lingers on. Those who believe in mob justice and invite towards hatred, lawlessness and violation of laws, even if for good purposes, are promoting chaos. They need to be exposed and opposed.

Mr Haq, it seems, is for accepting some demands of IK but thinks, prima facie, his strategy is wrong. He is against his demand of resignation of PM Nawaz Sharif this is why he has conditioned the resignation of PM with findings of the judicial commission. He however hasn’t made his stance public.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could be even partner of PPP in future if one goes by his intimacy with Rehman Malik. Hence

IK’s opinion (of dubbing the two big parties as corrupt and hands in glue with each other and being soft on militancy and hard on military operation) and strategy (of Dharna/mob agitation) has similarities with the JI, especially with that of the Late Qazi Husain Ahmad -ex Amir of JI but JI is not with him for JI seems no more interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from elections and assemblies but it is opposing him neither. Some believe JI and PTI are polls apart on their objectives, strategies, style and preferences and dub their coalition as a marriage of convenience. JI workers oppose IK for his style and strategy privately though they are reluctant to say it on record for it doesn’t want to forego its alliance and assembly seats and ministries for that matter.

“JI efforts for compromise are laudable but it needs to part ways with PTI especially after the revelations of Javed Hashmi because JI is for constitutionalism and democracy while PTI is indulging in anarchic politics. Besides, PTI is a liberal party arranging music nights in dharnas while JI is a religious party that observe Hejab day. But perhaps it doesn’t want, and rightly so, to lose its ministries and assembly seats and wants status quo to continue” says a political worker wishing anonymity.

Mr Haq, it seems, may also push JI away from its Jihadi paradigm of the 1990s and the radical tendencies of its previous Amir Munawar Hasan to its original preaching/democratic/constitutional paradigm of Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi era who never approved of Jihad by private outfits without formal declaration of war by the state.

Even though Mr Haq was embarrassed by IK when his suggestion to NS of recounting in ten constituencies was disowned by IK, he can still be effective vis-à-vis IK and he should try to save IK and PTI from committing political suicide and the country from economic, social and political threats and losses. But for this a jirga of all opposition parties, religious scholars, retired judges, generals, journalists, civil society etc should be formed. It should immediately listen to both parties and contemplate over solution in its confidential sessions. Then it should take neutral and rightful decisions. It should ask the parties to behave and if any side continues with its intransigence, it should unite the entire nation against it.

Mr Haq also has to decide whether JI is an Islamic movement or a political party. The demands, preferences and strategies of the two are invariably distinct and often conflicting. As an Islamic movement, the entire nation is its audience, so it cannot be a party in a political tussle. As a political party, others are its rivals and it has to take sides and compete with them its political survival.

Though JI has failed to become a popular political/electoral force, it has had influenced our society, politics and national priorities. In its endeavours to become to a popular force, it lost its identity as an ideological religious movement but couldn’t become a big party either. It is because even though Pakistanis respect its social services -JI’s Alkhidmat Foundation is doing commendable work for the temporarily displaced persons in KP- but aren’t ready to support it as a political party. It is because there is no room for politics based on religion especially after the enactment and enforcement of the 1973 constitution.

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Challenges to PTI KP government

Change they need
The new government in KP faces big challenges anyway, but they become even bigger because of the PTI’s promises
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/May2013-weekly/nos-19-05-2013/pol1.htm#6

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) stunned all and sundry with its performance in the recently held elections. Though it couldn’t sweep elections across the country as predicted by Imran Khan, it became the biggest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The PTI is going to form a coalition government in KP with Jamaat-e-Islami, Qaumi Watan Party and some independent members.

The PTI contested elections on the agenda of change. Its manifesto pledges, inter alia, devolution of power, zero tolerance for corruption, improvement of economy through reforms in energy, expenditure, revenue sectors, institutional reforms, accountability and governance reforms. It promises human capital development, skill development and a welfare state and says the state will provide uniform system of education for all, equal opportunity and a social safety net for the poor. It also promises to banish the VIP culture and rightsizing of the government and so on.

The PTI will initiate changes across the board in the first 90 days of its government, according to its manifesto.

The PTI government in KP can both be an asset and a liability. Though Imran Khan says the PTI government will be a model one, governance is certainly being seen as a big challenge in the province. However, all agree that the PTI future is directly dependent upon the performance of its government and its ability to deliver on its agenda of change.

The PTI has had announced several policies and manifesto. It should implement them but it will be difficult unless these are followed by a pragmatic plan of action — a vision that could serve as a guide for the party government and its workers. The PTI has prepared an action plan for ‘Naya Pakistan’ which is generally thought of as unrealistic.

In its bid to attract the young voters, the PTI leaders spoke of lofty ideals that generated high expectations. Living up to these expectations of the young supporters will be a herculean task for the PTI and its government.

Unless the gap between the ground realities and lofty ideals espoused by the PTI is bridged on emergency basis, the party will risk losing its youth even if its performance is better than the previous governments. However, this idealism can be an asset if supported by a realistic plan of action.

Most of the young PTI supporters are idealists. They have little knowledge of how our political system works. They were heard saying the PTI will lash the corrupt in public, will dismiss and replace Zardari immediately after polls, or that Imran will become prime minister/president immediately after election results are announced or that police and patwari system will be abolished.

Analysts say drone attacks, security problem, bad performance of other parties and the PTI slogan of change were the major factors in its victory. Change is, however, a complex phenomenon.

When Imran talks of change, he doesn’t mean he will disband the present system. Instead, he believes in working within the framework of the constitution and law to achieve his objectives. So, in fact, he is for reform and not overturning of the present system of election and governance in the country. Unfortunately, most of the PTI supporters don’t know this. When they will see that the same structure of government, with patwari, police, clerks etc, continues, they will get disillusioned.

Loadshedding, terrorism, restoration of peace, economic development, and reduction in poverty, inflation and joblessness are some major challenges facing the PTI.

According to Muhammad Khan, a Batkhela-based academic, the PTI will have to improve law and order situation through government-militant talks. Besides de-radicalisation and economic empowerment of people, the government will also have to deal with foreign militants.

“It will have to reduce loadshedding for which a short and medium term power generation plan based on micro-hydro power stations will have to be launched. It will have to introduce reforms in different departments to stop corruption and ensure transparency. To eradicate poverty and joblessness, it will have to start an emergency programme for small businesses that ensures interest-free small loans and technical training to youngsters to start their businesses. And most of all, it must prefer collective mega projects for community development.”

“The PTI will now have to deal with Taliban directly and help shape Pakistan’s Talibans’ policy. It will be exposed for the first time to militants. Will it still talk of talks if Taliban continue to challenge the state? Will Imran be able to bring peace to KP, stop drone attacks, eliminate loadshedding and improve economy and livelihood? For this, he will have to engage with other parties and the federal government. This necessitates a change in his style. He will have to be broad-minded, careful in his utterances and tolerant of others. Is Imran prepared to do that,” asks another academic who wished anonymity.

“Leniency and patience are the keys to success. The tension between the JUI and the PTI and the PML-N and the PTI must subside. Political differences must never become personal enmity. They should have working relationship. The PTI leadership and workers must shun bigotry, show magnanimity by accepting others and start doing issues-based politics instead of attacking personalities,” he adds.

According to a political worker, for dearth of experienced men in its ranks, the PTI won’t be able to establish a strong government. Only Pervez Khattak, Yousaf Ayub and Sardar Idrees have served as ministers. Another PTI MPA-elect Yasin Khalil had worked as nazim of a town during the Musharraf era.

“However, inexperience is not the only problem. Internal tensions between the old and new guards, represented by Asad Qaiser and Pervez Khattak respectively, is another problem. The PTI has opted for Khattak, a new comer, and neglected the committed and old Qaiser for the CM slot and has thereby risked its agenda of change. It will be deemed as injustice to the old guards. I think the two PTI allies — JI and QWP — have experienced members and would be the real beneficiaries of the setup,” he adds.

Then coalition government has its own compulsions. The PTI CM will have hard time to reconcile the conflicting interests of allies. “Selection of competent bureaucrats on merit for running the province will not be easy for dearth of officers, allies’ interests and internal rivalry between the old and new groups in the PTI,” he says.

There are other challenges too. In its expenditure reforms, the PTI had pledged ‘symbols of pomp and glory’ (e.g. Chief Minister and Governor Houses) will be shut down and put to public use. While it will need support of the federal government for closing the latter, the former can be easily shut down as the PTI incumbent will be occupying it.

It had also vowed to ‘limit’ perks of ministers, members of assemblies and civil bureaucrats and eliminate all discretionary funds and development funds for the parliamentarians. Will its MPAs let it do so?

During the previous Awami National Party government, the PTI had demonstrated against and urged the ANP to halt the Nato supply line. Will it be able to do that now when it is in power itself? The promise of uniform system of education is also uncertain. Will it be done by banning private schools or by privatising public schools? And rightsizing of government departments may well entail making many jobless.

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Challenges to PTI government in KP

By Tahir Ali

Pakistan Tehreeki Insaf (PTI) stunned all and sundry with its performance in the recently held elections. Though it couldn’t sweep elections across the country as predicted by Imran Khan, it became the biggest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

PTI is going to form a coalition government in KP with Jamat-e-Islami, Qaumi Watan Party and some independent members.

PTI contested elections on the agenda of change. Its manifesto pledges, inter alia, devolution of power, zero tolerance for corruption, improvement of economy through reforms in energy, expenditure, revenue sectors, institutional reforms, accountability and governance reforms. It promises human capital development, skill development and a welfare state and says the state will provide uniform system of education for all, equal opportunity and a social safety net for the poor. It also promises to banish VIP culture and rightsizing of the government and so on.

PTI will initiate changes across the board in the first 90 days of its government, according to its manifesto.

The PTI government in KP can both be an asset and liability. Though Imran Khan says the PTI government will be a model one, opinions differ on as to whether the PTI will be able to form one. However all agree that the PTI future is directly dependent upon the performance of its government and its ability to deliver on its agenda of change.

PTI has had announced several policies and manifesto. It should implement them but it will be difficult unless these are followed by a pragmatic plan of action –a vision that could serve as guide for party government and its workers. The PTI has prepared an action plan for ‘Naya Pakistan’ but it is generally thought of as unrealistic.

In its bid to attract the young voters, the PTI leaders spoke of lofty ideals that generated higher expectations.  Living up to these expectations of the naive young supporters will be a herculean task for PTI and its government.

Unless the gap between the ground realities and lofty ideals espoused by PTI is bridged on emergency basis, the party will risk losing its youth even if its performance is better than the previous governments. However, this idealism can be an asset if supported by a realistic plan of action.

Most of the young PTI supporters are idealists. They have little knowledge of how our political system works. They were heard saying PTI will lash the corrupt in public, will dismiss and replace Zardari immediately after polls, or that Imran will become prime minister/president immediately after election results are announced or that police and patwaris system will be abolished.

Analysts say drone attacks, security problem, bad performance of other parties and the PTI slogan of change were the major factors in its victory. Change is however a complex phenomenon.

When Imran talks of change, he doesn’t mean he will disband the present system. Instead, he believes in working within the framework of the constitution and law to achieve his objectives. So, in fact he is for reform and not overturning of the present system of election and governance in the country. Unfortunately most of the PTI supporters don’t know this. When they will see that the same structure of government, with patwari, police, clerks etc, continues, they will get disillusioned.

Loadshedding, terrorism, restoration of peace, economic development, and reduction in poverty, inflation and joblessness are some major challenges ahead of PTI.

According to Muhammad Khan, a Batkhela-based academic, PTI will have to improve law and order situation through government-militant talks, de-radicalization, economic empowerment and integration of the local and naturalisation of foreign, militants.

“It will have to reduce loadshedding for which a short and medium term power generation plan based on micro-hydro power stations will have to be launched. It will have to introduce reforms in different departments to stop corruption and ensure transparency. To eradicate poverty and joblessness, it will have to start an emergency programme for small businesses that ensures interest-free small loans and technical training to youngsters to start their businesses. And most of all, it must prefer collective mega projects for community development.”

“PTI will now have to deal with Taliban directly and help shape Pakistan’s Taliban’s policy. It will be exposed for the first time to militants. Will it still talk of talks if Taliban continue to challenge war on the country. Will Imran be able to bring peace to KP, stop drone attacks, eliminate loadshedding and improve economy and livelihood? For this he will have to engage with other parties and the federal government. This necessitates a change in his style. He will have to be broad-minded, careful in his utterances and tolerant of others. Is Imran and PTI prepared to do that,” says another academic who wished anonymity.

“Leniency and patience are the keys to its success. The tension between JUI and PTI and PML-N and PTI must subside.  Political differences must never become personal enmity. They should have working relationship. The PTI leadership and workers must shun bigotry, show magnanimity by accepting others and start doing issues-based politics instead of attacking personalities,” he adds.

According to a political worker, for dearth of experienced men in its ranks, PTI won’t be able to establish a strong government. Only Pervez Khattak, Yousaf Ayub and Sardar Idrees have served as ministers. Another PTI MPA-elect Yasin Khalil had worked as nazim of a town during Musharraf era.

“However, inexperience is not the only problem. Internal tensions between the old and new guards, represented by Asad Qaiser and Pervez Khattak respectively, is another problem. PTI has opted for Khattak, a new comer, and neglected the committed and old Qaiser for the CM slot and has thereby risked its agenda of change. It will be deemed as injustice to the old guards. I think the two PTI allies –JI and QWP – have experienced members and would be the real beneficiaries of the setup,” he adds.  

Then coalition government has its own compulsions. The PTI CM will have hard time to reconcile the conflicting interests of allies.

“Selection of competent bureaucrats on merit for running the province will not be easy for dearth of officers, allies’ interests and internal rivalry between the old and new groups in PTI,” he says.

There are other challenges. In its expenditure reforms, the PTI had pledged ‘symbols of pomp and glory’ (e.g. Chief Minister and Governor Houses) will be shut down and put to public use. While it will need support of federal government for closing the later, the former can be easily shut down as PTI incumbent will be occupying it.

It had also vowed to ‘limit’ perks of ministers, members of assemblies and civil bureaucrats and eliminate all discretionary funds and development funds for the parliamentarians. Will its MPAs let it do so?

 During the previous Awami National Party government, PTI had demonstrated against and urged ANP to halt the NATO supply line. Will it be able to do that now when it is in power itself?

The promise of uniform system of education is also uncertain. Will it be done by banning private schools or by privatising public schools? And rightsizing of government departments may well entail making many jobless.

PTI has indeed given a vision of change to its workers and raised their confidence but like some others, they lack sportsman spirit. They must be taught to respect the ideals and leaders of other parties and learn the art of discussion and tolerance. Unfortunately, by its loose talk, brandishing political opponents as fraudsters, unpatriotic, corrupt and inefficient, some political leaders have inculcated a culture of intolerance and accusations in the youth of the country.

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