Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto meets Maulana Fazl ur Rehman
By Momin Bullo

This historic picture shows Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto accompanying her mother Begum Nusrat Bhutto, Faisal Saleh Hayat and Rao Rasheed, to discuss the formation of a coalition government with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) leader Maulana Fazl ur Rehman in Islamabad, soon after the PPP achieved victory in the General Elections of 1988.

JUI’s firebrand leader, the late Maulana Mufti Mahmood, who was also the Chief Minister of NWFP during the administration of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB), bitterly opposed ZAB’s policies. Mufti Mahmood on several occasions passed embarrassing remarks against ZAB, which were highlighted by the anti-Bhutto sections of the print media. After Bhutto’s death, the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) joined the democratic forces against the Zia regime, thus giving impetus to the populist agitation known as the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) that was led by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

Following the demise of Zia ul Haq in a mid-air explosion in August 1988, the JUI supported the PPP government of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in the face of numerous fatwas issued by other religious parties questioning whether a woman could head the government in an Islamic polity. The JUI took a clear stance backed by examples from early Muslim history, and supported the nomination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as the first lady Prime Minister of the Muslim world. During the second term of BB’s Prime Ministership (1993-96), the JUI was a coalition partner of the PPP government Maulana Fazl ur Rehman remained a supporter of Mohtarma till her tragic assassination in December 2007.