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Meet Fazlur Rehman, the Right-wing Cleric Who May Help Imran Khan Become Pakistan PM

Fazlur Rehman hails from Dera Ismail Khan District in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and has cultivated an image of being a turncoat over the years.

Uday Singh Rana | News18.com@UdaySRana

Updated:July 26, 2018, 7:29 AM IST
Meet Fazlur Rehman, the Right-wing Cleric Who May Help Imran Khan Become Pakistan PM
Fazlur Rehman addressing a rally in Pakistan. (Image: Reuters)

New Delhi: Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is looking to create history on Wednesday by ending the bipolar politics of Pakistan as his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is emerging as the single largest party in the country’s National Assembly. However, as per the trends, the PTI may end up falling just short of the majority mark of 137 seats.

If Khan comes within touching distance of the halfway mark, he may manage to pave the path to the Prime Minister’s Office with the help of a coalition of small extreme far-right religious Islamist parties. The coalition is called Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and its leader, Fazlur Rehman, is a controversial cleric who has been criticised for his constant flip-flops and turncoat politics.

Controversial cleric Fazlur Rehman, who hails from Dera Ismail Khan District in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, is known for being sympathetic towards the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. But he has cultivated an image of being a turncoat over the years.

Perhaps keeping with the image, he also opposed Wednesday's results and has even decided to call an All Parties Conference over the alleged rigging of results. His comments followed similar allegations by major political parties in the country.

But with Imran inching closer to the halfway mark, he may yet eventually support the PTI, experts feel.

Rehman had shot to prominence in the years following the September 11 attacks in New York, when he started leading anti-America and pro-Taliban rallies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The MMA is a coalition of six extreme far-right religious political parties, led by Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat-Ul Islam (Fazlur) [JUI (F)]. While a fringe player in Pakistan, Rehman has kept his political fortunes alive by striking strategic alliances when the time was right.

His critics have argued that he gravitates towards whoever is in power at the moment. The MMA is a coalition of extreme far-right religious outfits that have come together on a common platform. The JUI (F), the main party in the coalition, was in alliance with the Asif Ali Zardari-led PPP government till 2012, till Fazlur Rehman jumped ship to the PML (N).

During the election campaign, Khan had hit out at Rehman for frequently changing sides. “Whenever a government goes out of power, it leaves two things behind – the treasury and Fazlur Rehman,” Khan had joked at an election rally.

However, just ahead of the polls, he had joined hands with the MMA. According to a report in Geo News, however, elements within the MMA were not happy with the tie up with Imran Khan.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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