The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal has come into being once again. This means that over the course of the past four elections – including this year’s – the MMA is now 2-2 in terms of reincarnating and failing to do so.

Of course, the MMA that claims to be a coalition of five Islamic parties, is actually a two party merger between the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl and Jamaat-e-Islami, with the likes of Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, Tehreek-i-Islami Pakistan and Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith just making up the numbers to make it look like a coalition of nationwide parties.

With the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Sami, currently allying itself with the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf – even if the former might be understandably reconsidering it – the MMA isn’t even an alliance of the parties that originally made up the coalition in 2002, let alone a merger of the majority of the mainstream Islamist parties.

Hence, there indeed is the case to be argued that the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal is neither muttahida, nor a majlis and has literally done nothing for a decade for there to be any amal – not that they did anything of any significance in the five years before that.

Since the MMA do not have Gen Musharraf, or a military dictatorship – at least de jure – it really can’t expect the elections to be rigged this time to help the coalition bag half a century of National Assembly seats. In fact, amidst the mainstreaming of jihadist groups, the MMA doesn’t even have the political deterrence value for Western powers.

Considering the aforementioned mainstreaming, that has resulted in the likes of Tehrik-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah springing up – both factions of it – and participating in by-elections over the past year, along with the Hafiz Saeed affiliated Milli Muslim League that is yet to be registered by the Election Commission of Pakistan but has been putting up candidates for by-polls nonetheless, the MMA doesn’t seem like serving anyone’s purpose but its own – even that, of course, is debatable.

It is hard to see MMA serving any recent ‘doctrines’ considering that other parties are in a much better place to serve it. But of course it could allow a wider spread of the Islamist parties around the country, and as high a representation in the Parliament as possible, which indeed has been serving one particular doctrine in the country for seven decades.

The MMA is already making the age old noises, with JI chief Siraj-ul-Haq sending out a warning to the ‘corrupt, secular, fake democrats’, in one go, as Fazl-ur-Rehman – aptly appointed the MMA President – calling for Sharia to establish ‘true democracy’ and indeed ‘true Islam’. Indeed, the same old, same old.

The MMA might be living in the past grandeur of Musharraf orchestrated political mileage, but as things stand it is at best a cog in a multi-purpose machinery designed to rein in the ruling party, before the juggernaut stampedes home.

With the MMA unlikely to do any seat-winning damage in Punjab and Sindh, this cog is limited to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and perhaps being a wild card for Balochistan, as the machine looks to establish sufficient electoral grounds to maintain the status quo, as the rage against the machine simmers on in the reverberations of the ruling party.

However, with the daddies of the Taliban from the JUI-S sitting out the MMA, TLY becoming a raging cult of its own, and MML being buried under the Financial Action Task Force’s bucket-list, the machine continues to be broken down into its constituents with time running out for a problem assembling of the parts – which, ironically, the MMA’s reincarnation is supposed to symbolise.

It is unlikely that any of these cogs – those glued together, and otherwise – would have what it takes to fulfill the machine’s main purpose: dent the potential absolute majority.

Therefore, the bigger cogs, those that have aligned themselves with the machine, and those that were born in it, will have to do the donkey work as the machine-head rings the countdown to extinction – for whom and what, remains to be seen.


The writer is a Lahore-based journalist.