|Leader of the Opposition|
20 August 2004 – 25 March 2008
|Prime Minister||Shaukat Aziz|
|Preceded by||Benazir Bhutto|
|Succeeded by||Nisar Ali Khan|
19 June 1953
Abdul Khel, DI Khan District, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan
|Political party||Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl Group|
|Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) (2002–2008)|
|Residence||Islamabad and Now shera|
|Alma mater||Peshawar University
Darul Uloom Deoband, India
Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman ( مولانا فضل الرحمٰن , b. 19 June 19, 1953), is an Pakistani politician, religious cleric who leads the conservative Assembly of Islamic Clergy. Rehman's party is currently part of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) led national coalition. Rehman has served previously as Leader of the Opposition between 2002 till 2007 during which time he was the Secretary General of United Council of Action, the social conservative alliance which was voted to power in the western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan in 2002. 
Rehman is the son of Maulana Mufti Mahmud an influential cleric who led the Assembly of Islamic Clergy during the 70s. Rehman rose to national politics in 1988, has been elected to National Assembly on multiple occasions.Rehman and his party remained junior coalition partners of the national government 1988-1990, 1993-1996, 2008–2013 and 2013-Present.
A strong proponent and supporter of leftist Islam, Rehman's role in the government of left-oriented PPP grew since 1996, and asserted his influential role in regional policy relating the Jammu Kashmir and Afghanistan. Rose to national politics in 1988, Rehman notably gathered his support and much publicized Benazir Bhutto's political campaign in 1993 general elections. After supporting Benazir Bhutto as becoming the Prime Minister, Rehman considerably influenced and assisted Benazir Bhutto to help shaping Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1996.
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Early life and education
- 1.2 Career in the National politics
- 1.3 2008 general elections and Gillani's government
- 1.4 Public status and image
- 2 See also
- 3 Notes and references
- 4 See also
Early life and education
Fazal-ul-Rehman was born in Abdulkhel, D.I. Khan District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, on 19 June 1953. Rehman hails from an influential political family, his father Mufti Mahmud was a local clerical leader and had a strong vote bank in the Dera Ismail Khan. Rehman studied at the local Madrassa, a religious seminary, in DI Khan. Later, Rehman was accepted at the University of Peshawar where he studied Islamic studies, earning B.A. degree in Islamic studies in 1983. Rehman went to Cairo, Egypt, after being accepted at the Al-Azhar University. Unlike many of his colleagues who have only received degrees from madrassas, Rehman is a "refined product" of Al-Azhar University and studied and researched in religious Theology there, under reputed religious and divinity research scholars. In 1987, Rehman completed and published his master's thesis on political aspects of Islam and was awarded M.A in Religious studies from the Al-Azhar University. Upon returning to Pakistan, he participated in 1988 general elections for state parliament.
Career in the National politics
After returning to Pakistan, Rehman participated in 1988 general elections on a platform religious platform from a JUI(F) ticket. It was during this time period, Rehman built relations with Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and got acquainted with Prime Minister Benazir after she ordered an armed action in Jalalabad of Communist Afghanistan. Rehman is a fundamentalist with a difference, known for his proximity to former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and had been under her political science circles as early as 1989. Although, a fundamentalism, he remained in the camp of the political alliances and parties led by Benazir Bhutto that were opposed to conservative leader, Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Muslim League. Only did he contest the election in alliance with the PML, in 1990 general elections, and then too he lost.
Involvement in Benazir Bhutto's government
After losing the 1990 general elections, Rehman frequently began to meet Benazir Bhutto at the PIDE in opposition to Prime Minister Navaz Sharif. Despite his fundamentalist orientation, Rehman publicly campaigned for Benazir Bhutto and with full vigor, supported her right to become the Prime Minister while keenly opposing the media campaign of the JeI in the 1993 against a woman heading the government of an Islamic republic. Rehman defused the criticism from the right-wing circles and fully endorsed Benazir Bhutto's campaign in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province.
After securing the plurality in the state parliament after the 1993 general elections, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto duly rewarded Rehman by approving his appointment as the chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. As chairman, he became key delegation member of Benazir Bhutto's staff, and became fond of foreign travels taking with Benazir Bhutto. He frequently visited United States, Western world, China, and Japan as part of state visits of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. In media, it was reported that Rehman spent more time abroad than in Pakistan. On a repeated state visit of Benazir Bhutto, Rehman frequently met with Clinton administration staffers and senior officials of the US State Department. His visit to India, he was most diplomatic in his statements and proved himself as worthy unofficial representatives of the country.
On common press meetings, he was known to be much closer to Benazir Bhutto than anyone else, and often remarked as "gray beard and wearing a yellow turban, a powerful man." His efforts were paid and gained much influence on Benazir Bhutto afterwards. On numerous occasions, Rehman had mentored Bhutto on religious public policy matters while continued traveling with Benazir Bhutto as part of her foreign delegations. Spurred on by Rehman, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had signed the promotion papers and a personal appointment of then-Lieutenant-General Pervez Musharraf (tenuring as director of the Directorate-General of Military Operations (DGMO) in her key staff. She also gave green signal to General Musharraf to dispatch thousands of religious fanatics and students at the clerical schools to Jammu Kashmir of India.
Taliban, Northern Alliance, and Afghan war subsidiary
The close relations with Prime minister Benazir Bhutto and chairmanship of committee for foreign relations at the state parliament enabled Rehman to influence on Prime minister Benazir's geostrategy in Afghanistan. Rehman more frequently and repeatedly visited Washington, D.C. to meet with President Bill Clinton and Brussels to meet with European Union politicians to secure the lobby for the support of Taliban. In 1995, he reportedly organized a hunting trips for rich Arab princes in Kandahar and created a first initial contacts with Arab rulers of Saudi Arabia and Taliban. In 1996, his frequent visits to Saudi Arabia and UAE later enlisted their financial and military support for the Taliban in their war against the communist Northern Alliance.
Furthermore, it was Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who legitimize the JUI(F) and endorsed Rehman in the national politics, who had no particular political role in the country. Her government, in close coordination with Rehman, are widely held responsible for installing Taliban in Afghanistan. Regarded an intelligence landmark and momentous achievement for the idea of Strategic depth", an idea coined and pioneered by NDU professor General Mirza Aslam Beg, it was later founded and became a historical fact that it was Benazir, a Western-educated woman, who set in motion the events leading to 9/11 incident in the United States.
Official visit to India
In 2003, Rehman made an intriguing and significant state visit to India after the 2002 general elections. At that time, he was the leader of the MMA, a massive alliance of far-right parties opposing President Pervez Musharraf. A perception of supporting Taliban in Afghanistan about Rehman was already well known and well established in New Delhi, India. In an attempt to normalize foreign relations between two countries, Rehman made many public statements and declarations regarding the issue of Jammu Kashmir. Indian Prime Minister Atal Vaypayee met him in his official residence, and officiated a state dinner for him.
Addressing the Indian media, Rehman termed Kashmir as "territorial problem" rather than "religious issue". In New Delhi, he also held a secret meeting with leadership of RSS, telling the RSS leadership that the trade and economic should be used to build confidence between two countries. Before being departure from India, Rehman condemned the Kashmiri militants for laying terrorist attacks against the civilians and state machinery. Observers viewed his visit to India sd most diplomatic in his statements and proved that Pakistan's elite politicians, even if they are in the opposition, could conduct themselves as worthy unofficial representatives of the country.
2008 general elections and Gillani's government
During the election campaign for 2008 general elections, he once again endorsed Benazir Bhutto, and played an integrand role in supporting Yousaf Raza Gillani's government in 2008. In a massive left-wing alliance containing MQM, ANP, PMLQ, his role and his party became an integral core of forming the government. A tactical support to Gillani was made after endorsing Gillani's call to remove President Pervez Musharaf in 2009. Ultimately, he was endorsed and appointed for a chairmanship of Kashmir committee at the state parliament in his recognition of supporting the Asif Ali Zardari's bid for presidency. He held a complete status of portfolio of federal minister in the government.
Public status and image
Wikileaks: US visit and political support
Generally, a fundamentalist who holds strong Anti-American sentiment in the country, Rehman has been criticized for shifting towards leftist sphere. The Wikileaks secret cables exposed Rehman when he cordially invited US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, to a state dinner in Islamabad in which he sought her support in becoming prime minister and expressed a desire to visit America.
According to Rehman's personal aide, "All important parties in Pakistan had to get the approval" of the U.S. Referring to Rehman, Patterson mentioned "He has made it clear that....his still significant number of votes are up for sale". The cables also highlighted the contradictions of other prominent figures. Amin Fahim, a Bhutto follower hoping to run for Prime Minister, led an Islamic religious party "while enjoying an occasional bloody mary".
Criticism from right-wing circles
The right-wing sphere's has given a strong criticism to Rehman for shifting his politics to left-wing circles. The right-wing parties charged Rehman for building his public image by supporting Benazir Bhutto during her second term as the prime minister. Critics of Rehman maintained that his close relations and links with leftist PPP has diminished temporarily his party's image of an anti-secular and religio-political entity.
The right-wing critics regarded Rehman as "an opportunist posing as an Islamic leader". He is also known as "Maulana Diesel" for in connection with diesel smuggling to Afghanistan in the government of Benazir Bhutto. The right-wing populist party, PTI, and sportsman-turned politician Imran Khan dubs Fazal-ur-Rehman as "liar and hypocrite." 
Notes and references
- Trivedi, Dinesh (June 3, 2007). "India, Pak MPs clash over draft declaration on Kashmir". Outlook India. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
- et al. "Biography of Fazlur Rahman". Pakistan Leaders Database. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- et. al, Bureau Report (16 April 2013). "Election Tribunal rejects pleas against Fazl and Sabir". Dawn News Election Cell. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Weaver, Mary Anne (21 November 2001). "Ground Zero: Pakistan". PBS/The New Yorker. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- et al (Updated). "Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman". Election Commission of Pakistan. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Weaver, Mary Anne (2002). Pakistan : in the shadow of Jihad and Afghanistan (1st ed. ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0374228949.
- et al (Updated). "Details of Maulana Fazlur Rahman". Pakistan Herald. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- administration, et. al (January 2, 2012). "Who is Fazlur Rahman". Story of Pakistan Foundation. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Hiro, Dilip. Apocalyptic realm : jihadists in South Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 200–210. ISBN 0300173784.
- Jaffrelot, ed. by Christophe (2002). Pakistan : nationalism without a nation? (1. publ. ed.). New Delhi: Manohar Publ. ISBN 1842771175.
- Maley, edited by William (2001). Fundamentalism reborn? : Afghanistan and the Taliban (3. impr., new preface. ed.). New York: New York University Press. pp. 76–80. ISBN 0814755860.
- Hussain, Yasir (2008). The assassination of Benazir Bhutto (1st ed. ed.). New Delhi: Epitome Books. pp. 57–60. ISBN 8190626043.
- Gupta, edited by K.R. (2006). Studies in world affairs. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. pp. 291–300. ISBN 8126904968.
- Tahir Niaz (Monday, June 18, 2012). "In return for "tactical" support PPP won’t field candidate against Fazl in elections". Daily Pakistan. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Walsh, Declan (30 November 2010). "Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari 'Prepared for Assassination' – WikiLeaks Cables Profiling Husband of Late Benazir Bhutto Say He Has Named His Successor Should He Also Be Killed". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- et. al. "Right-wing criticism to JUI(F)". Right-wing criticism to JUI(F). Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Hoshang Noraiee (15 April 2011). "Globalization and Islam: Modernity, Diversity and Identities". In Farhang Morady, Ismail Siriner. Globalisation, Religion & Development. International Journal of Politics & Economics. p. 56. ISBN 978-0956825605. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- Shahid Aslam (Monday, April 29, 2013). "Imran dubs Fazlur Rehman as liar". The News International. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Profile: Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman
- Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman
- on www.elections.com.pk
- Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam
- Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (Assembly of Pakistan 'Ulama)
|Party political offices|
|Leader of the Assembly of Islamic Clergy
|Leader of the Opposition
Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi