Asia - Pacific

Pakistan: Sirajul Haq re-elected Jamaat-e-Islami chief

Haq won elections with ‘huge majority’, announces head of party’s election commission

Aamir Latif   | 21.03.2019
Pakistan: Sirajul Haq re-elected Jamaat-e-Islami chief Siraj-ul-Haq, Chief of pakistani political and religious party Jamaat-e-islami

KARACHI , Pakistan 

Senator Sirajul Haq has been re-elected as emir (chief) of Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) -- the country’s mainstream religious party -- for another five-year term, the party’s election commission announced on Thursday. 

Announcing the results, Asadullah Bhutto, JI’s election commissioner, at the party’s headquarters in northeastern Lahore city, said Haq won the election with a “huge majority”.

According to the JI traditions, no one is actually a candidate for the top slot, however the Majlis-e-Shoora (central executive council) gave three names to over 39,000 party members -- male and female -- for “guidance purpose”.

This time, apart from Haq, the other two figures were party’s incumbent secretary general, Liaquat Baloch, and deputy chief Professor Ibrahim Khan.

Currently, Jamaat has over 39,124 members apart from hundreds of thousands of workers and supporters.

According to Jamaat’s constitution, only members are eligible to take part in election for the party chief. 

Simple public figure

Haq is the JI’s fifth emir since its inception in 1941. The other four emirs were, Maulana Abul Aala Maududi, Mian Tufail Ahmad, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, and Syed Munawar Hassan.

Known for his simplicity and a down to earth personality, Haq, 56, has been elected as the JI chief for the second consecutive term.

Hailing from remote northwestern Dir district near Afghanistan border, Haq belongs to a humble family background. His father was a seminary teacher, where Haq himself got his early religious education.

He got his early education from his hometown, and later moved to Peshawar, and then Lahore for higher education.

He possess master’s degrees in Education from University of Punjab, Lahore.

Haq joined Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), the country’s largest student wing when he was in grade 8.

He later served as the IJT’s Nazim-e-Aala (central president) for three consecutive terms from 1988 to 1991.

He joined Jamaat soon after completion of his studies, and served at different positions, including the party emir for northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, and central deputy emir.

Haq embodies a long parliamentary experience. He was twice elected as a member of the KP provincial assembly -- in 2002 and 2013 -- and served as the provincial finance minister during his both terms.

During his first term as finance minister, the Asian Development Bank had declared the KP the country’s most financially disciplined province.

He was elected as a member of the Upper House -- the Senate -- in 2015, and will serve at this position until 2021.

Haq is one of a very few top politicians who does not even own a house. He together with his seven children and a wife lives in a party-owned apartment in Lahore.

He can speak Pashto, Urdu, English, Arabic and Persian languages.  

Party background

Jamaat-e-Islami was formed by renowned scholar Maulana Abul Aala Maududi on Aug. 26, 1941 in northeastern Lahore city with 75 founding associates.

Together with Syed Qutub of Muslim Brotherhood, Maududi is considered the ideological leader of several moderate Islamic movements across the Muslim world, which work for transformation of their respective countries into modern Islamic states through a political struggle.

Jamaat split into two parts -- JI India and JI Pakistan -- as Maududi moved to Lahore soon after the partition of India in 1947, and organized the party in the then largest Muslim country.

The party, first time, was thrust into political spotlight in 1953, when a military court sentenced Maududi to death for “inciting violence” on the basis of a pamphlet “Masla-e-Qadiyaniat” he had written on Ahmadiyya sect.

However, the sentence was later revoked.

Jamaat had faced a crucial ideological split in 1957 when some key leaders, including Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi parted their ways as they thought the party should not have taken part in parliamentary politics, instead it should focus on pure religious activities.

Being a staunch opponent of communism and capitalism, the JI emerged as a major opposition force against the then military ruler Gen. Ayub Khan (from 1958 to 1969).

The military government banned the JI, and had the party leadership arrested, as Maulana Maududi supported Fatima Jinnah -- sister of the country’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah -- in 1965 presidential election against Ayub.

The Supreme Court, however, soon annulled the military government’s decision and reinstated the party as a legitimate political force.

In 1970 elections, JI was the only party that had fielded candidates from the then both parts of the country, but could not achieve a major success.

Late 1960s and early 1970s had appeared to be testing times for Jamaat in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Having an equally sizable presence in both parts of united Pakistan, the JI had called for political settlement of the crisis. However, it joined hands with Pakistan army after India attacked the then East Pakistan in 1971.

The months-long war led to creation of Bangladesh, and the JI had to pay the price for its move after over 40 years. Its six senior members, including former emir Maulana Motiur Rahman Nizami, have been hanged in Bangladesh for so-called war crimes in 1971 war through a controversial legal process.

Maududi refused to take part in elections for the new emir due to health issues, and his close lieutenant and one of the founding members Mian Tufail Ahmad was elected as his successor, and served until 1987 for three terms.

Qazi Hussain Ahmad was elected as the JI’s third emir in 1987 and served until 2009 for three consecutive terms. In 2009, Syed Munawar Hassan was elected as the fourth emir, served for only one term until 2014.

The current President of Pakistan Arif Alvi, and scores of ministers, and politicians at one point remained associated with either Jamaat or its student wing, the IJT.

Jamaat’s biggest parliamentary success was in 2002 general elections when it secured 27 seats in the lower house -- the National Assembly -- and became the second largest partner of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) -- a five-party religious alliance -- in KP government.

In the last July general elections, the JI could secure only one National Assembly and two provincial assembly seats from the platform of MMA.  

* Islamuddin Sajid in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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