July Issue 2003
Interview: Maulana Fazlur Rehman
“It has never been MMA’s policy to use force to implement Islam”
– Maulana Fazlur Rehman, JUI leader
Q: Liberal forces feared that religious extremism would increase with Islamic parties coming to power in the Frontier province. Do you think this is happening?
A: If they cannot tolerate the Shariah Bill, which has been passed unanimously by all the elected members of the Frontier assembly, then the popular sentiment that America and other western countries are against Islam is right.
The whole world should understand the realities and respect the mandate given to the MMA by the people of Pakistan. Actually, this is a campaign against Pakistan’s Islamic forces, to brand them as Taliban.
Q: People generally believe that the Islamic parties idealise the Taliban and they have recently adopted a Taliban-style system of governance.
A: The Taliban were misrepresented. Their system was an ideal Islamic system, but they were trying to implement it by force. Here, in Pakistan, we are trying to bring about an Islamic revolution in accordance with the wishes of the people who voted for us.
Q: Billboards have been vandalised and musicians forced to close down business. Don’t you think this use of force amounts to lawlessness?
A:It has never been MMA’s policy to use force to implement Islam. Islam is not a religion of coercion or extremism. The Frontier province is the most peaceful province in the country.
When some MMA workers tried to take the law into their hands, the law took its own course. Cases have been registered against those people who tried to deface billboards.
Actually, ever since we have passed the Islamic laws, stomachs rumble in Washington and the cramps are felt by Musharraf’s puppet government. The west is afraid of the increasing popularity of Pakistan’s Islamic parties and wants to target them. The popularity of the MMA is increasing day by day, not only in the Frontier and Balochistan provinces, but also in the Punjab and Sindh.
Every Pakistani citizen considers the presence of the FBI and CIA in Pakistan offensive, and allowing Americans the use of its military bases and airspace as interference in our sovereignty. The MMA also defends the strategic interests of Pakistan. That is disliked by anti-Islamic forces, and those very forces are opposed to the MMA and its policies adopted in the light of the Quran and Sunnah. They do not want to see Pakistan, which is the only Islamic nuclear-armed country, as a pure Islamic state.
Q: But Maulana Sahib, there are women who cannot sleep well due to the recent policies adopted by the MMA.
A: They should not be afraid. They should not view it as Talibanisation, as projected by the west. We also tried to make the Taliban understand the realities of the modern world. There is no ban on working women. But the prime responsibility of women is to look after the household and the responsibility of the men is to earn. But if women want to contribute economically, there is no ban on them in Islam.
Q: Is it just an impression that the MMA is creating hurdles to stop the parliamentary system from working?
A: The LFO is a basic issue and we are fighting and protesting against the LFO in a democratic manner. General Musharraf wants to legitimise his position by pressurising political and religious parties through the LFO. He is an unconstitutional president. We want to solve this problem through negotiations. Religious parties have always played their role in parliament but General Musharraf, rather than solving the LFO issue, is busy trying to convince the west that in him lies their salvation.