The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has entered into an agreement with Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party to revive the controversial Punjab Tahaffuz-i-Bunyad-i-Islam Bill 2020 and to get the latter’s support for the formation of government in the province, it has been learnt reliably.
Sources told Minute Mirror that an agreement was signed between Rah-e-Haq Party MPA Muavia Azam Tariq and PML-N MNA Rana Sanaullah for mutual political cooperation. The one member of the far-right Sunni Deobandi party in the provincial legislature is of key importance in winning the Punjab chief minister-ship amid the tight number-game in the house of 371. In a message to this scribe, Azam confirmed “consultation with the PML-N was in process”, but he avoided commenting further on the situation.
The agreement would not only benefit Rah-e-Haq Party in launching a powerful campaign in the future election but also help the PML-N grab maximum support of the Deoband school in Punjab. Considered as a substitute to the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba, the Rah-e-Haq enjoys strong base in different parts of the country with millions of diehard supporters. Both the parties have past experiences of supporting each other, with Rana Sana thought to have a close relationship with the Deobandi leaders. The party, however, stayed away from the PML-N in 2018 elections.
Passed by the Punjab Assembly on July 22, 2020, the law, which makes the publication of objectionable material punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and up to Rs500,000 fine, became controversial after some other powerful religious schools of thought, including Shia, raised objections over it. On this, the then Punjab governor, Ch Sarwar, refused to sign the bill, saying it was very sensitive and would be signed after consensus is developed over it.
Interestingly, a PML-Q MPA and minister introduced the bill in the Punjab house. Former law minister Raja Basharat had termed the bill a step towards the ‘PM’s vision of Riyast-e-Madina’. Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi, being the key player behind this bill, also declared the legislation, saying it would increase harmony amongst different sects.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, slightly blaming the government for not removing the French ambassador on the demands of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, has also provided an opportunity to the former to come closer to the latter in future politics. Talking to reporters on Tuesday, the PML-N leader criticized the PTI for using ‘anti-US rhetoric’ and ‘religion’ for political mileage.