Pak Minister's Viral Comparison With India: '...And We Are Begging'

Maulana Fazlur Rehman was speaking in the National Assembly


Pakistan’s leading right-wing Islamic leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Monday came out in support of his erstwhile rival Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, saying the opposition party has the right to hold rallies and even form a government.

Rehman, the chief of his faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), made a blistering speech in the National Assembly, slamming the powerful establishment for allegedly rigging the political system.

“It is the right of the PTI to hold a rally,” he said. “We also objected to the 2018 election and we object to this (February 8 polls) one too. If the 2018 poll was rigged, why is the current one not rigged?” he asked.

PTI leader Asad Qaiser had demanded the party’s right to organise a rally. “The demand of Asad Qaiser is correct and it is the right of PTI to hold a rally,” Rehman said in his speech.

Rehman urged the ruling coalition of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan Peoples Party to allow the PTI to form the government if it enjoyed a majority in the parliament.  

“Leave this power. Come and sit here [on the opposition benches], and if the PTI is indeed the larger group, then give them the government,” he said.

The cleric then expressed his dismay over the role of the establishment and bureaucracy in election and running the country.

“The establishment and bureaucracy had no role in achieving this country,” he said.

He alleged that the elections held on Feb 8 were not fair but flawed.

“What kind of election is this where the losers are not satisfied and the winners are upset?” he said.

He drew parallels with neighbouring India. “Just compare India and ourselves… both countries got independence on the same day. But today they (India) are dreaming of becoming a superpower and we are begging to avoid bankruptcy,” he said.

He said that decisions are made by somebody else but politicians are blamed for the problems.

Rehman also lamented the failure to implement recommendations from the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), emphasising the importance of upholding Islamic principles.

“We got the country in the name of Islam, but today we have become a secular state. Since 1973, not a single recommendation of the CII has been implemented. How can we be an Islamic country?” he said.

The CCI is a constitutional body set up to help Islamize the laws.

He also said that Pakistan was begging the International Monetary Fund to avoid bankruptcy.

The JUI-F was the arch-rival of PTI and had spearheaded the move for the ouster of Imran Khan. After his downfall, JUI-F became part of the coalition government. However, he parted ways with the PML-N and PPP after the elections as he alleged that the polls were rigged to keep his party out of power.

It is believed by many that by supporting the PTI, the cleric is putting pressure on the establishment and the government to cut a deal to get a bigger share in the spoils of politics than his potential.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)