Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam — Fazl

Published February 7, 2024

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam — Fazl (JUI-F) is a conservative religious party that has formed political and electoral alliances with various parties, including Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Peoples Party, and Awami National Party, reflecting its versatile approach to coalition-building.

The JUI-F was formed from within the ranks of the JUI, a party that itself had taken shape from the cadres of Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind (JUH). The JUH was formed in 1919 with anti-colonial aims and was an ally of the Indian National Congress. JUI broke away from JUH over its support for the creation of Pakistan as a separate homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims.

In its current iteration, JUI was revived in the 1960s under the leadership of Mufti Mahmud, ostensibly as a counterforce to Ayub Khan’s regime.

Following Mahmud’s tenure, his son Maulana Fazlur Rahman assumed leadership in 1980 and has remained in that position ever since.

Under Rahman’s chairmanship, the party joined the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) after the then military ruler, Ziaul Haq, went back on his promise to hold a general election in the country.

JUI-F depends more or less entirely on Deobandi mosques and madrassahs for recruitment of new members, which is fundamentally why its middle and top ranks comprise mostly of madrassah-oriented theologians.

Moreover, most of the party’s workers are those who have previously been trained in religious schools and seminaries.

Since the 1980s, JUI-F has continually oscillated between politics of ideology and politics of pragmatism.

The JUI-F has been known to call for the enforcement of Sharia law in Pakistan, which was also one of the key aims of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) — a six party alliance of which it was a part in the 2002 general election.

Previous elections

In 1988, the JUI-F secured seven seats in the National Assembly. In the 1993 elections, it participated under the Islami Jamhoori Mahaz (IJM) coalition, garnering four seats.

In the 1997 polls it won just two NA seats but its haul in the 2002 elections soared to 41. In 2008, the party ran as part of the MMA, which secured a total of 47 general seats.

During the 2013 elections, JUI-F secured 15 out of 272 general seats in the National Assembly, while in 2018, contesting under the MMA banner, the party won 12 seats in total.

In past elections, the party had supported the idea of keeping women away from polling stations. However, in 2018, the party changed its position on women’s enfranchisement, launching a full-scale campaign to bring female voters to polling stations in the 2018 general elections.

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