Fazal-ur-Rehman (politician)

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فضل الرحمٰن
Leader of the Opposition
In office
20 August 2004 – 25 March 2008
President Pervez Musharraf
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
Deputy Amin Fahim
Preceded by Benazir Bhutto
Succeeded by Nisar Ali Khan
Personal details
Born Fazal-ur-Rehman
فضل الرحمٰن

(1953-06-19) 19 June 1953 (age 63)
Abdul Khel, DI Khan District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Citizenship Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
Political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl Group
Other political
Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) (2002–2008)
Residence Islamabad and Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Alma mater Peshawar University
Al-Azhar University
Religion Deobandi, Sunni Islam

Fazal-ur-Rehman (Urdu/Pashto: مولانا فضل الرحمٰن b. 19 June 1953) is a Pakistani politician. who leads the conservative Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F). Rehman's party is part of the Pakistan Muslim League (N)-led national coalition. Rehman previously served as Leader of the Opposition from 2002 to 2007 during which time he was the Secretary General of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, the social conservative alliance which was voted to power in the western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan in 2002.[1]

Rehman is the son of Maulana Mufti Mahmud, an influential cleric who led the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) during the 1970s. Rehman rose to national prominence in 1988 and has been elected to the 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.[citation needed]

A strong proponent and supporter of political Islam, Rehman's role in the government of the left-oriented PPP grew in 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 publicised 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.

Early life and education[edit]

Fazal-ul-Rehman was born in Abdulkhel, D.I. Khan District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, on 19 June 1953.[2] 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.[2] Rehman studied at the local Madrassa, a religious seminary, in DI Khan.[2] Later, Rehman was accepted at the University of Peshawar where he studied Islamic studies, earning BA degree in Islamic studies in 1983.[3] Rehman went to Cairo, Egypt, after being accepted at the Al-Azhar University.[4] Unlike many of his colleagues who have only received degrees from madrassas, Rehman is an alumnus of Al-Azhar University and studied and researched in religious Theology there, under reputed religious and divinity research scholars.[4] 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.[5] Upon returning to Pakistan, he participated in 1988 general elections for state parliament.[5]

Career in National Politics[edit]

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.[6] 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.[6] Although, a fundamentalist, 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.[7] Only did he contest the election in alliance with the PML, in 1990 general elections, and then too he lost.[7]

Involvement in Benazir Bhutto's government[edit]

After losing the 1990 general elections, Rehman frequently began to meet Benazir Bhutto at the PIDE in opposition to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.[8] Despite his fundamentalist's 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 Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan in 1993 against a woman heading the government of an Islamic republic.[8] Rehman defused the criticism from the right-wing circles and fully endorsed Benazir Bhutto's campaign in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province.[8]

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.[8] As chairman, he became a delegation member of Benazir Bhutto's staff, and on a number of occasions made international trips with Benazir Bhutto. He frequently visited the United States, Western world, China, and Japan as part of state visits of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.[8] Media reported that Rehman spent more time abroad than in Pakistan. On state visits state visit of Benazir Bhutto, Rehman met with Clinton administration staffers and senior officials of the US State Department.[8] On his visit to India, he was diplomatic in his statements and showed himself to be an unofficial representative of the country.[8]

In common press reports, he was thought to be close to Benazir Bhutto, and was referred to as the person with a "gray beard and wearing a yellow turban, a powerful man."[8] His efforts were rewarded and gained influence on Benazir Bhutto afterwards.[8] On numerous occasions, Rehman mentored Bhutto on religious public policy matters while with Benazir Bhutto as part of her foreign delegations.[8] Spurred on by Rehman, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto 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.[9] She also gave green signal to General Musharraf to dispatch thousands of religious fanatics and students at the clerical schools to Jammu Kashmir.[9]

Taliban, Northern Alliance, and Afghan war subsidiary[edit]

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.[10][11] 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.[11] In 1995, he reportedly organised a hunting trips for rich Arab princes in Kandahar and created a first initial contacts with Arab rulers of Saudi Arabia and Taliban.[11] 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 Northern Alliance.[11]

Furthermore, it was Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who legitimised the JUI(F) and endorsed Rehman in the national politics, who had no particular political role in the country. Her government, in close co-ordination with Rehman, are widely held responsible for installing Taliban in Afghanistan.[12] 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.[12]

Official visit to India[edit]

In 2003, Rehman made an intriguing and significant state visit to India after 2002 general elections.[13] At that time, he was the leader of the MMA, a massive alliance of far-right parties supporting President Pervez Musharraf.[13] A perception of supporting Taliban in Afghanistan about Rehman was already well known and well established in New Delhi, India.[13] In an attempt to normalise foreign relations between two countries, Rehman made many public statements and declarations regarding the issue of Jammu Kashmir.[13] Indian Prime Minister Atal Vaypayee met him in his official residence, and officiated a state dinner for him.[13]

Addressing the Indian media, Rehman termed Kashmir as "territorial problem" rather than "religious issue".[13] In New Delhi, he also held a secret meeting with leadership of RSS, telling the RSS leadership that the trade and economic relations should build confidence between two countries.[13] Before being departure from India, Rehman condemned the Kashmiri militants for laying terrorist attacks against the civilians and state machinery.[13] Observers viewed his visit to India as very diplomatic-in his statements- and in their view proved that Pakistan's elite politicians, even if they are in the opposition, could conduct themselves as worthy unofficial representatives of the country.[8]

2008 general elections and Gillani's government[edit]

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.[12] In a massive left-wing alliance containing MQM, ANP, PMLQ, his role and his party became an integral core of forming the government.[14] A tactical support to Gillani was made after endorsing Gillani's call to remove President Pervez Musharaf in 2009.[14] 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.[14] He held a complete status of portfolio of federal minister in the government.[14]

Public status and image[edit]

Wikileaks: US visit and political support[edit]

Generally, a fundamentalist who holds strong Anti-American sentiment in the country, Rehman has been criticised for shifting towards leftist sphere.[15] 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 US Referring to Rehman, Patterson mentioned "He has made it clear that....his still significant number of votes are up for sale".[15] 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".[15]

Criticism from right-wing circles[edit]

The right-wing sphere's has given a strong criticism to Rehman for shifting his politics to left-wing circles.[16] The right-wing parties charged Rehman for building his public image by supporting Benazir Bhutto during her second term as the prime minister.[16] 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.[16]

The right-wing critics regarded Rehman as "an opportunist posing as an Islamic leader".[16][17] The centrist party, PTI, led by Imran Khan dubs Fazal-ur-Rehman as "liar and a hypocrite."[18]

Assassination attempts[edit]

  • On March 30, 2011, Fazal-ur-Rehman remained unhurt when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a convoy he was leading on the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway. Swabi DCO Syed Abdul Jabar Shah said the bomber blew himself when Sub-Inspector Sardar Ali asked him to stop for body search. He said he could not say if Maulana Fazl was the target, but it was undoubtedly an act of terrorism aimed at creating fear and panic among people.[19]
  • On October 23, 2014, at least two people were killed and dozens injured when a suspected suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside a Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) rally in Quetta. "My car was badly damaged, almost destroyed. The windscreen of my car was completely cracked, we received a big shock but me and friends inside the car are safe and alive," Fazal-ur-Rehman said.[20] Banned militant group Jundallah (Pakistan) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Trivedi, Dinesh (3 June 2007). "India, Pak MPs clash over draft declaration on Kashmir". Outlook India. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Biography of Fazlur Rahman". Pakistan Leaders Database. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  3. ^ et. al, Bureau Report (16 April 2013). "Election Tribunal rejects pleas against Fazl and Sabir". Dawn News Election Cell. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Weaver, Mary Anne (21 November 2001). "Ground Zero: Pakistan". PBS/The New Yorker. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman". Election Commission of Pakistan. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Weaver, Mary Anne (2002). Pakistan : in the shadow of Jihad and Afghanistan (1st ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0374228949. 
  7. ^ a b "Details of Maulana Fazlur Rahman". Pakistan Herald. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k administration, et. al (2 January 2012). "Who is Fazlur Rahman". Story of Pakistan Foundation. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Hiro, Dilip. Apocalyptic realm : jihadists in South Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 200–210. ISBN 0300173784. 
  10. ^ Jaffrelot, ed. by Christophe (2002). Pakistan : nationalism without a nation? (1. publ. ed.). New Delhi: Manohar Publ. ISBN 1842771175. 
  11. ^ a b c d 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. 
  12. ^ a b c Hussain, Yasir (2008). The assassination of Benazir Bhutto (1st ed.). New Delhi: Epitome Books. pp. 57–60. ISBN 8190626043. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Gupta, edited by K.R. (2006). Studies in world affairs. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. pp. 291–300. ISBN 8126904968. 
  14. ^ a b c d Tahir Niaz (18 June 2012). "In return for "tactical" support PPP won't field candidate against Fazl in elections". Daily Pakistan. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c 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. 
  16. ^ a b c d et. al. "Right-wing criticism to JUI(F)". Right-wing criticism to JUI(F). Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ Shahid Aslam (29 April 2013). "Imran dubs Fazlur Rehman as liar". The News International. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  19. ^ Newspaper, From the (30 March 2011). "Suicide bomber targets Maulana Fazl's convoy; 10 killed". Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  20. ^ Shah, Syed Ali (23 October 2014). "Two killed as JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman escapes suicide attack in Quetta". Dawn.com. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Mufti Mahmud
Leader of the Assembly of Islamic Clergy
Political offices
Preceded by
Benazir Bhutto
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi