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Asia-Pacific

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal - fractious religious alliance can punch above its weight

media JUI-F leader Mullah Fazal ur-Rehman na.gov.pk

The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a slimmed-down version of an earlier alliance of Islamist parties, has been weakened by factional spats and the not-always happy experience of local power. Its leading party was part of the outgoing coalition but its conservative politics make it an uneasy bedfellow for left-leaning secular parties.

The MMA – whose name means United Council of Action – is no more, according to one of the founding parties, Syed Munawar Hasan’s Jamaat-e-Islami, which refused to join when Jamaat Ulema-e-Islam (F) leader Fazal-ur-Rehman tried to revive it in 2012.

  • Leader: Fazl-ur-Rahman
  • Founders: Fazl-ur-Rahman, Sami ul-Haq, Qazi Hussain Ahmad
  • Founded: 2002
  • In power: North-West Frontier Province 2002-2008
     

 

The alliance had broken up in 2008 when JUI-F decided to take part in the election, breaking a boycott declared by the other parties.

Dossier: Pakistan General Election 2013

The MMA was originally set up in 2002 and won control of North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) on a wave of Pashtun opposition to the US-led toppling of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

But it lost the province to the secular, Pashtun-nationalist ANP and, thanks to the boycott, only JUI-F was represented in parliament.

Although the religious parties have never won a large number of votes in elections, Pakistan’s fractured party system and the authority of Islam allow them to punch above their weight – they were given a significant boost by the devout dictator General Zia ul-Haq and JUI-F was able to join the PPP-led government in 2008.

The alliance now consists of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F), Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), Tehrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan (TJP), Jamiat Ahle Hadith and other smaller groups.

TJP is the only Shia-Muslim party in the Sunni-dominated coalition.

The alliance is theocratic and socially conservative, opposes Pakistan's cooperation with the US-led war on terror and, while operating within the law itself, has criticised some state repression of armed Islamists.

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