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Munawwar declines to contest Jamaat polls

06 January, 2014

PESHAWAR: The Jamaat-i-Islami chief, Syed Munawwar Hassan, has declined to contest the party election to retain his position. The election process in the JI has formally started and would be completed by April this year.

The meeting of the central Shura of the party, which concluded in Lahore on Sunday night, named the election committee headed by Abdul Hafeez Niazi, a senior member of the party.

"Balloting was also held in the Shura for choosing three names to contest for the top office of the JI," sources privy to the meeting told our sources. The three names, however, could not be made public as some members of the body remained absent from the three-day meeting that started on January 3. They would be asked for their consent through postal ballot, which would take another 10-15 days before finalising the names, the sources said.

Munawwar Hassan, according to sources, asked the JI shura to keep him out of the election process as he didn't want to serve for another term. The Shura did not insist that he should review his decision. The favourite candidates after Munawwar Hassan are the JI deputy chief Sirajul Haq, general secretary Liaqat Baloch, president Sindh province Dr Mairajul Huda Siddiqui, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa head Prof Mohammad Ibraheem Khan and Hafiz Mohammad Idrees. The first three are, however, considered the frontrunners, the sources said.

If the Shura members voted Munawwar Hassan to be a candidate for the office of JI chief despite his refusal, he would definitely retain the job for another term as per the party traditions.

Insiders said that if he gets out of the process, the hot favourite among the remaining candidates would be Sirajul Haq, who is currently the senior minister in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and is also holding the portfolio of finance.

Liaqat Baloch is equally popular in the party ranks, the sources said. Both Sirajul Haq and Liaqat Baloch have also served as central chiefs of Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba, the students wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.

The JI as a democratic party has a history of holding intra-party elections for electing leaders of all tiers. The process of election is not a formality like many other political parties in Pakistan but is a genuine effort.

The election process of the central Ameer, or head, normally takes four months to complete. It would start from the first week of January and end by April's first week with the oath-taking of the new Ameer in accordance with the party constitution.

Munawwar Hassan was elected as the central president of JI in April 2009. He took oath of the office on April 5, 2009 for a five-year term.The JI has been led by four central chiefs in its 72-year history. Since its inception in 1942 till 1972, the founder of the party Syed Abul Aala Maudoodi held the office.

In 1972, Mian Tufail Mohammad was elected to the office and he served in the capacity till 1987 when Qazi Hussain Ahmad was made the central chief and served till April 2009 for four consecutive terms.

The JI has over 30,000 members across the country. They are called 'Arkan' as per the party constitution. Every member (Rukan) is a voter for the office of the central chief. The election committee would send postal ballots to all the members, who would return them within a time specified by the committee, the sources said.

End.

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