LAHORE, Dec 5: Five of the component parties of the Defa-i-Pakistan Council on Wednesday announced they will be contesting the general election as an alliance.

The new alliance, Muttahida Deeni Mahaz (United Religious Front), representing Deobandi, Ahle Hadith and Barelvi schools of thought, will approach other religious parties as well to strengthen itself, its founding chief Maulan Samiul Haq told a press conference here.

A steering committee headed by Maulana Sami will also contact PML-N, Tehrik-i-Insaf and Jamiat Ulama Islam (JUI-F) of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, besides other political entities having religious leanings, to invite them to join the Mahaz or for seat adjustment in the elections.

The committee will meet in Islamabad on Dec 8 to finalise the constitution, manifesto, electoral code of conduct and other modalities of the new alliance.

Maulana Sami was also among the founders of a six-party religious alliance, Muttahida Majlis Amal ahead of 2002 polls that later ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan under Musharraf regime. However, the Maulana was pushed out of the coalition by the five other allies.

The new alliance includes two major opponents of Jamiat Ulama Islam (JUI-F) president Maulana Fazlur Rehman --- MNA Maulana Ismatullah (JUI-Nazriati) and Maulana Muhamamd Ahmad Ludhianvi (Ahle Sunnat-wal-Jamaat).

Jamiat Ahle Hadith group led by Ibtesam Elahi Zaheer will also be part of the alliance, while the Barelvi school of thought will be represented by Pir Mehfooz Mashhadi’s JUP-Sawad Azam, which is part of the Sunni Ittehad Council and.

Maulana Fazl downplays the new league, which is likely to challenge the Jamiat Ulama Islam (JUI-F) in its stronghold in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, claiming that even if all other religious parties joined hands they could not defeat his party.

Maulana Sami told reporters that Syed Munawwar Hasan had been approached for inviting Jamaat-e-Islami to join the MDM and that the JI Shoora (consultative body) will decide the matter in its meeting.

He said Jamaatud Dawa has also been urged to support the MDM.

He said countering the US would be the main agenda of the alliance, alleging the super power had brought the country down to its present state.

He rejected the impression that the new alliance was aimed at opposing any other party or alliance.

He told a questioner that at present the MMA was the other name of Maulana Fazl whose popularity, he said, was fast declining even in his own hometown.