“Honest leaders should be voted.”

Almost every professor of political science reiterates the sentence as the ultimate solution to every problem prevailing in the country. But where do honest leaders come from? An emerging famous leader once replied to accusations of adopting the old and corrupt politicians from other parties saying: “where should I avail angels from?”

The entry of the JUD and FIF backed Milli Muslim League (MML) in the mainstream democratic politics has been largely seen as an answer to “where should angels be availed from.” JUD, according to a learned political scientist, has gross root-level support in the rural as well as the urban population in the country especially Punjab based on its religious foundations, manifesto and activities. FIF also holds a long brilliant track-record of providing rescue and relief services all over the country in disastrous times. It has focused the neglected and perished peasantry of the interior Sindh including Tharparkar and Balochistan including Awaran. Senior politician and federal minister Raja Zafar-ul-Haq repeatedly states that the works of the Falah e Insaniyat Foundation have been so deep-rooted and beneficial, that it has substantially reduced and weakened the separatist movements in Balochistan and Sindh. FIF has also been credited to help people indiscriminately (regardless of their religion) especially in Sindh, where the Hindu population has always benefited from it and they acknowledge the services of the foundation from time to time.

JUD, due to its religious outlook, also rules the hearts and minds of the Pakistani populace. In fact, the people in Pakistan have always supported politicians with religious backgrounds. This is obvious as in the past the popularity and popular sovereignty gained by Islami Jamhori Ittihad (IJI) and later on by Muttahida Majlis e Amal (MMA). Difa e Pakistan Council can also be presented as a recent example. People have always been waiting for such a political party to emerge. The reluctant JUD has also been long insisted to join the mainstream politics. The gratitude of the people has been manifested in the NA-120 by-polls where many old and powerful parties were unable to compete the nascent and experience-lacking party. Next battlefield is the NA-4, where it faces hurdles and misleading accusations from the Election Commission of Pakistan, backed by aggressive-turned PMLN and world powers who have always been sceptical about the activities of JUD.

Registration to the ECP has been purposefully halted by the interior ministry due to party benefits as well as due to the concerns raised by the State Department in Washington.

India is also raising the issue at every forum saying that Pakistan is incorporating terrorists in the politics. How should one forget that the very country’s Prime Minister was once declared a terrorist by the state department and his entry to the USA was banned. The Indian PM holds his mandate only due to his terrorist activities and terrorizing statements against the minorities especially Muslims. He himself has submitted that he personally had helped the terrorists of Mukti Bahini in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). If such a provocative and radicalized man can become the PM of the so-called largest democracy, then why not an organization known for defending the country and doing relief work participate in elections? No such allegations have ever been substantiated against the organization in the courts and till today, the Ameer of JUD is under house arrest only due to external pressure.

Assadullah Ghalib writes that Pakistan has always warmly accepted the violent factions of the society. He gives examples right from the National Awami party to factions of MQM, from the armed separatists to Ehsanullah Ehsan, when they gave up their arms and surrendered to the state. Neither JUD and nor FIF has ever done any damage to the country, rather they have always been helping the people and the state then why should they be hurdled?

The fear of PMLN and PPP are, however, not just superficial. Both of them and other parties have no grass-root level support in the country. PMLN is mostly an urban party and is substantially losing its popularity, thanks to Panama leaks and the vigorous campaign of Imran Khan, leading to the disqualification of the head of the party and head of the government. This will eventually cause loses to the party, as urban population today is well aware of the situation. PPP, on the other hand, has support in rural Sindh, but not from the public (peasantry) but from the elites (the landlords) the works of FIF there, greatly affect the situation, although the staunch feudal system halts the true democratic ideals far from the borders of the province.

Dr Asma Sana, an expert in South Asian studies, says that religion has always played a very firm role in the politics of the region and JUD has an overwhelming persuasive power. To quote her in direct speech: “what is a vote? If they ask the people, they will sacrifice their life without hesitation.”

Therefore, in reality, it will pose a threat to the status quo of the political parties and that is why the PMLN government has been causing hurdles for the party. Yes, it will also induce concerns in New Delhi as well as in Washington due to its Islamic outlook.

A country’s sovereignty is of immense importance and to uphold its sanctity it must safeguard its national interests. Pakistan must not succumb to any foreign agenda veiled as some counterterrorism policy. We as a nation must realize what is best for us and avoid any grey propagandas targeting the sovereignty of Pakistan.

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The writer is a student of Internation Relations at the National Defence University. An avid reader. Writes on South Asian issues.