Politics over national interest – Daud Khattak

Source Daily Times
The JUI-F cares more for saving the skin of its leadership than national interests. By signalling a parting of ways with the Centre, the JUI-F leadership wants to convey to the Taliban its ‘hate’ towards the government’s pro-US policy

It will be much to say that a bunch of vested interests is at work in almost all the political and religious parties of the country with some of them claiming to be mainstream parties. Party leaders always find lame excuses whenever they see their own or party interests at stake; even though such action may be at the cost of national interests.
One such excuse came from Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) the other day, when he said that the party might part ways with the central government if the latter failed to mend its ways by changing its ‘pro-US foreign policy’. Everyone knows that the JUI-F was running the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government under the umbrella of the then Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) for a full five years when Pervez Musharraf was ruling the roost with his pro-US policies, but the party leadership never bothered to pass even a meagre signal of resignation from the provincial government. And to add insult to injury, the same party and its partners in the MMA supported the 17th constitutional amendment by legalising the rule of Musharraf, who was accused of selling out the country’s foreign policy to the US and sending troops into the tribal areas to carry out the anti-terror war. One wonders what happened to force the JUI-F to think of parting ways with the government which, if not better in other aspects from that of Pervez Musharraf, has at least a democratically elected president and prime minister and the rest of the ruling coalition members are not like the turncoats of the PML-Q.

The motive and the intent are clear: the religious party, just like many other mainstream parties, cares more for saving the skin of its leadership than national interests. By signalling a parting of ways with the Centre over the latter’s pro-US policy, the JUI-F leadership wants to convey to the Taliban, following the murder of its former MNA Merajuddin Khan, its ‘hate’ towards the government’s pro-US policy.
Instead of coming out into the open against those who are tarnishing the peace of the country by carrying out suicide attacks on security forces, government functionaries, civilians and tribal elders, the so-called mainstream parties are taking refuge behind lame excuses to save their skin whilst disregarding the country’s interest. Being the leading religious parties, the JUI-F and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) never condemned those killing innocent civilians.
A very small percentage of the people support the US policies vis-à-vis Pakistan and its people, but one should also see how many people are backing the zealots who are out to impose their style of Islam by beheading people in the streets, carrying out public executions and targeting civilians in suicide attacks, roadside bomb blasts and rocket fires.
Is it the US that destroyed hundreds of schools in Swat, Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber and even the city of Peshawar? Who carried out the Qissa Khawani blast that killed several JI workers, besides others? Who targeted the innocent civilians in Meena Bazaar, Peshawar, and who attacked the volleyball players and spectators in Shah Hasan Khel village of Lakki Marwat, killing 90 people? The perpetrators of all such attacks are openly claiming responsibility, but the religious parties, instead of calling a spade a spade, are beating about the bush with the rhetoric of US policies.
A very common belief is developing among the masses that the religious parties, just like the mainstream PML-N, are cashing in on the situation by removing themselves from the war against terror and conveying to the militants that they were in their favour. It was in the not-so-distant past that the Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, requested the Taliban not to carry out attacks in his province, as his government was not supporting the US polices and Pakistan’s security forces against the Taliban. Moreover, not a single word of condemnation has so far been heard from any PML-N leader over the killing of innocent civilians or the destruction of schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or the adjacent tribal areas, as if those are not part of Pakistan.
The JUI-F leadership is reservedly condemning the death of Maulana Merajuddin and mulling over the government’s pro-US polices, but who will condemn the killing of hundreds of tribal elders targeted, beheaded and bombed in Waziristan, Kurram, Mohmand, Khyber, Bajaur and Swat? The attacks in Punjab, the murder of Maulana Merajuddin or the suicide attack in Qissa Khawani are only a few incidents that must serve as an eye-opener for all those who believe that they remain safe by closing their eyes. They must realise the threat to the country and the people instead of drawing a circle around themselves or their groups.
All the political parties must show moral courage by breaking their silence on what is going on, as the country does not belong only to the PPP and the ANP. To them, it may be a ‘sin’ to be in the government, but the silent spectators may arrive in the corridors of power tomorrow. It is not time to think of political expediencies; it is time to keep national interests supreme.

The writer can be reached at khattakjr@gmail.com

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