Pakistan PM invites former ally JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to join ruling coalition

Shehbaz Sharif

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has extended an invitation to his former ally, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, to join the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and assist in addressing the country’s political tensions, as reported by Pakistan media on Friday.

Sharif, who heads a coalition government supported by Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and other smaller parties, visited the 70-year-old leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) on Thursday to check on his well-being, according to the Dawn newspaper.

During his visit, the 72-year-old Prime Minister proposed forming a committee to tackle the ongoing political issues and invited Maulana Rehman to become part of the ruling coalition.

A source, quoted in Dawn report, in the PM Office confirmed that Rehman was asked to join the ruling alliance and participate in the proposed committee to resolve the political tensions.

However, a JUI-F spokesperson stated that Maulana Rehman declined the offer, emphasising that seeking power is not part of their politics and mentioning that they had received a better offer before the current government was formed.

Maulana Rehman previously led the opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), against Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. The PDM formed a central government under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif after Imran Khan’s government was ousted in a vote of no-confidence in April 2022.

Recently, tensions have arisen within Pakistan’s ruling coalition, with the PPP, a key ally, accusing the PML-N of ignoring its input in the preparation of the annual budget.

The PPP questioned whether the Shehbaz Sharif-led government still values its support, expressing these concerns in a parliamentary committee meeting chaired by party leader Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday, just before the budget for the financial year 2024-25 was presented in Parliament.

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