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MMA to end Parliament boycott

Pakistan's hardline Islamist alliance re-elected its top leaders to lead the group in the general elections expected later this year.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2007 18:03 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Pakistan's Islamist alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has decided to end it's boycott of Parliament, but was determined to continue its "opposition to anti-Islam policies of the government".

After months of internal bickering over strategy to be adopted towards President Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's six party hardline Islamist alliance decided to end the boycott of the National Assembly and re-elected its top leaders to lead the group in the general elections expected later this year.

The alliance at its Supreme Council meeting held here yesterday re-elected Qazi Hussain Ahmad as President and Maulana Fazlur Rehman as General Secretary.

Hussain, a bitter critic of Musharraf, leads the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) which in the recent months has stepped up its campaign for the President's ouster.

Opposing Musharraf's campaign for "moderation", he had supported a mass resignation of the members of MMA's from the National and Provincial Assemblies in protest against the government's move to modify the Hudood Law that was against women.

Rehman, who leads the dominant Jamaat Ulema Islami, (JUI), is the the leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.

His party heads the MMA government in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and is part of pro-Musharraf coalition government in Balochistan.

Rehman opposed the strategy to quit National Assembly and instead advocated a united opposition to the government.

He appeared to have carried the day as MMA Supreme Council on Tuesday finally gave up its plans for the mass resignations.

"The unity of religious alliance was more important to us in view of challenges and crises being faced by the country and Muslim world," MMA Deputy Secretary-General Liaquat Baloch told the media after the meeting.

"The decision to stay in the National Assembly was taken after four parties voted in favour and two against.

JI and Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan voted for resignations while four parties favoured a continued struggle against the government inside and outside of parliament," Baloch said.

He, however, maintained that the MMA decided to keep the resignation option open until the Opposition takes a joint decision on the issue.

"We do not want the religious alliance to face differences at this juncture," Baloch said.

"The supreme council decided to continue its opposition to the Protection of Women Bill and other anti-Islam policies of the government," he said.

The alliance has also agreed that the remaining agitational programme against the military dictatorship for holding of fair and impartial elections, independent election commission and restoration of the Constitution would continue.

Baloch condemned government's policy in Balochistan and accused it of taking a U-turn on the Kashmir issue.

"The council also repeated its criticism of President Musharraf's foreign visits as part of an American conspiracy and that of the western world for the recognition of Israel," he said.

First Published: Feb 14, 2007 18:03 IST