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Not strange bedfellows

June 30, 2012

THE prospective alliance between the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf and Jamaat-i-Islami would be a predestined coming together of parties with similar views on important issues in today’s Pakistan. The JI and PTI, which has been called a ‘good-looking Jamaat-i-Islami’, have identical positions on protecting the judiciary. They are convinced the country is in the clutches of the most corrupt. On to problems more nagging and more central to our existence, Imran Khan appears to have a telltale ideological affinity with the Jamaat on militancy, on the Taliban and Al Qaeda and on the US. Given all these factors, a united JI-PTI front was only a matter of time. That time has now arrived and with the announcement of the PTI-JI front to fight the ‘corrupt’ rulers, there is a prospect of street struggle, one which, many would be hoping, aims beyond a mere election contest. The two parties — especially the JI, which, to its misfortune, is again regarded as the junior partner in the relationship — will be hoping to build it into a campaign for change on the pattern of the recent Middle Eastern uprising recently.

For starters, the JI’s help should bolster the numbers in the anti-government campaign the PTI has already launched. It may also lend the protest the fiery element the JI is known to infuse in extreme action. The JI has been quite desperately offering it to the PML-N and failing that, it is all too willing to place its services at the disposal of an even cleaner Imran Khan. This handshake after a rather long informal association will raise questions about PTI’s ideology and its roots. This can be conveniently dubbed an ‘alliance of fundamentalists’. Or more meaningfully, it can be looked at from the perspective of a large enough group of people who believe a compromise between the hardliners and mainstream Pakistan is still possible.