Alliance with PML-Q triggers rift in Sunni Ittehad
FAISALABAD / LAHORE, Nov 27: An election alliance between the Pakistan Muslim League-Q and Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) announced at a press conference by SIC chief Sahibzada Fazal Kareem in Faisalabad on Tuesday in the presence of PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Deputy Prime Minister Pervaiz Elahi has triggered a fissure in the SIC.
A few hours after the press conference, some parties in the Sunni Ittehad dissociated themselves from the decision taken by Sahibzada Fazal Kareem, suspended his chairmanship and appointed Jamaat Ahl-i-Sunnat (Swad-i-Azam) chief Pir Syed Mahfooz Mushhadi as officiating chairman.
Pervaiz Elahi told reporters that his party had been trying over the past year to forge the alliance with the SIC, adding that it would be a permanent alliance aimed at tackling issues like poverty, price hike and terrorism.
He alleged that the Punjab chief minister had wasted billions of rupees on the sasti roti scheme and a bus project.
Chaudhry Shujaat said issues faced by the country could not be resolved without joining hands with religious parties. None of the political parties and leaders could resolve the issues without working in cooperation with religious elements, he said.
He also said that efforts were being made to forge a strong political alliance before the next elections.
Sahibzada Fazal said the alliance was based on their joint resolve to protect shrines, wipe out terrorism, enforce Nizam-i-Mustafa and solve the country’s problems.
The SIC is an alliance of 32 parties belonging to the Barelvi school of thought and their heads are members of its Majlis-i-Shoora and Majlis-i-Amla. Rejecting the electoral alliance with the PML-Q, an urgent meeting of representatives of some of the parties in the SIC held at the Lahore office of Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP) termed it harmful to the council.
“As Sahibzada Fazal has shaken our trust, we declare the alliance as his individual act and not on behalf of the SIC,” Pir Mushhadi told Dawn.
He said the SIC leaders had decided to call another meeting of the council in a couple of days to devise a strategy for participating in the elections and decide whether it should enter into an alliance with any political or religious party.
He said the alliance was unacceptable because the PML-Q was a partner in the PPP-led collation government.
On the other hand, Mohammad Nawaz Kharal, a spokesman for Sahibzada Fazal, rejected the decision.
“These so-called parties have nothing to do with the SIC. Their decision is not important and Mr Kareem is still the chairman,” he said.
He termed the development a result of efforts made by the PML-N to thwart the alliance.
“We consulted all our member parties before reaching the alliance with the PML-Q,” he added.
Mr Mushhadi rejected Mr Kharal’s claim and claimed enjoying support of most of the SIC parties. “That is why I have been made officiating chairman of the SIC by the meeting convened on the demand of various member parties,” he said. He said the chairman had been avoiding for a long time to submit a report to the SIC Majlis-i-Shoora about use of millions of rupees of its funds.
He said the meeting had been attended by representatives of the JUP, Tanzeemul Madaris (Ahl-i-Sunnat), Anjuman Talaba Islam, Sunni Force, JUP-N, Ahl-i-Sunnat Mahaz, Jamaat Ahl-i-Sunnat (Swad-i-Azam), Almi Tanzeem Ahl-i-Sunnat, Mustafai Tehrik and Markazi Jamaat Ahl-i-Sunnat.