True to form, Maulana Fazlur Rehman assured ministry for brother

True to form, Fazl assured ministry for brother

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Rich senator from Mansehra with US background also made minister

By Rahimullah Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: When it comes to extending favours, JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman seldom looks beyond his family. Once again on Monday, he chose his younger brother Maulana Attaur Rehman to be one of the two federal ministers from the quota of cabinet berths allotted by President Asif Ali Zardari to his party.

The other JUI-F nominee in the federal cabinet is Senator Azam Khan Swati, a wealthy politician from Mansehra district who lived in the US for years. Azam Swati, who in the past served as District Nazim of Mansehra, is sometimes referred to as one of the financiers of the JUI-F. He has been given the portfolio of tourism.

The JUI-F now has three federal ministers. Rahmatullah Kakar, who belongs to Balochistan, is federal minister for housing. He was inducted in the king-sized federal cabinet, which is becoming rather unwieldy, when an earlier batch of ministers was administered oath of office.

Maulana Attaur Rehman, elected MNA from NA-25 constituency in Tank district in the NWFP, was certain to become a minister. Though the name of Maulana Mohammad Qasim, the JUI-F MNA from Mardan who was re-elected in the February 2007 general elections despite the pro-ANP wave that swept the province, was sometimes mentioned as a likely candidate for a berth in the federal cabinet, he had little chance in comparison to the brother of the party head Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Maulana Qasim was compensated by recommending his name to become chairman of a parliamentary committee.

To his credit, Maulana Attaur Rehman too was re-elected as MNA in the last year’s elections. He polled 44,673 votes to narrowly defeat his PPP opponent, Dawar Khan Kundi. The latter approached the court and demanded recounting. But the resourceful Maulana prevailed and was declared as MNA by the Election Commission.

Of all the portfolios, Maulana Attaur Rehman has reportedly been given science and technology. Someone said he should have been made minister of religious affairs, Hajj and Auqaf.

Defending his selection as federal minister, a JUI-F leader said Maulana Attaur Rehman being an MNA and man of the masses would be better able to serve the electorate and stay in touch with party members. He argued that his name was recommended by the JUI-F shura to become minister. He refuted the impression that Maulana Fazlur Rehman had anything to do with his brother’s nomination as minister.

This isn’t the first time that Maulana Fazlur Rehman has preferred someone from his family to land a prized position. During the rule of the Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA) from 2002-2008, he and Maulana Attaur Rehman were serving as MNAs. His two sisters-in-laws, Shahida Akhtar Ali and Rehana Ismail were elected lawmakers on the seats reserved for women. The former was an MNA and the latter MPA.

Later Maulana Lutfur Rehman, another brother of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, was elected an MPA in a by-election from their native Dera Ismail Khan. Needless to say, the MMA’s provincial government left no stone unturned to enable him to win the by-poll. Though Maulana Lutfur Rehman resisted the temptation of becoming a provincial minister at a time when his family was politically the most influential in the NWFP, he didn’t need to join the cabinet, as his position was even otherwise unassailable. He was among the most powerful lawmaker and politician at the time.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman fielded himself and three of his brothers on five assembly seats in the February 2008 elections. Maulana Lutfur Rehman tried his luck on two provincial assembly seats from Dera Ismail Khan and lost both. A younger brother Obaidur Rehman contested for another NWFP Assembly seat from Dera Ismail Khan and was defeated. The two older brothers, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Maulana Attaur Rehman, had better luck as they won their seats. However, Maulana Fazlur Rehman won from another district, Bannu constituency after having lost his traditional assembly seat in Dera Ismail Khan.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman isn’t the only politician who keeps his family’s interest above everything else in politics. All top political families whether belonging to secular, nationalist or religious parties follow the practice. There aren’t any honourable exceptions on this count in Pakistan’s patronage-based politics. (The News)