Mawlana Fazlur Rehman, leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, has emerged as an influential opposition leader in Pakistan who overshadows the legitimacy of Prime Minister Imran Khan, according to political analysts. -Collected
Mass protests designed to paralyze the seat of government and undermine the ruling prime minister are par for the course in Pakistan. Mawlana Fazlur Rehman, leader of one of the country's main religious parties Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, has already benefited from his present rally in three ways. One, he has exposed the political fragility of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Two, he has positioned himself as one of the dominant voices in the country's otherwise flaccid opposition. Three, Rehman seems to have put paid to the Pakistani military's attempts to marginalize him politically. Almost all of these accomplishments have been at the expense of Mr Khan's legitimacy and effectiveness, reports Hindustan Times.
The prime minister is not in any danger of being overthrown but his survival is now almost completely dependent on the whim of the Pakistani military. Mr Khan's party, the Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf, was backed by the military and his present legislative majority similarly cobbled together by Rawalpindi. Recent events have further eroded his political capital. He has also carried out onerous if necessary structural reforms on the Pakistani economy, including massively devaluing the currency, in large part because the military demanded it of him.
His erratic behavior on the global stage was unhelpful when his country was seeking international backing on Kashmir. His announcement of a new scholarship program at a time when Rehman was taking over the center of Islamabad projected a sense of weakness rather than confidence.
For Pakistan as a whole, the rally only reveals the continuing problem of a polity in which the military seeks to monopolize all authority but legitimacy lies with democratic politicians. The politicians, with limited ability to generate public goods or effect policies on behalf of their supporters, use rallies and protests to force the state structure to take cognizance of them.
Rehman has reminded the military, of whom he has become increasingly critical, that he is still a force to reckon with. Mr Khan has been reminded that he can easily be rendered impotent - as he showed by using mobs to paralyze the government of his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, for 126 days.
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