) (متحدہ مجلس عمل) (United Council of Action
) is a coalition between religious-political parties in Pakistan
In the Majlis-e-Shoora (the Pakistani parliament), the MMA, is a coalition opposition, after United States started bombing Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime.
Until the elections of 2008
when secular parties secured a majority of the votes, the MMA was the ruling party in North-West Frontier Province
(NWFP). It currently comprises five Islamic religious organizations:
- Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman's faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam or simply JUI-F. The more hardline and traditional Deobandi stream of thinking - with popular appeal amongst clerics and the Pashtuns and Baluch of NWFP and Balochistan.
- Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan or JUP. A traditional Barelvi political party which is popular with traditional and folk Muslims in Pakistani villages in Sindh and Punjab.
- Jamaat-e-Islami. A pan-Islamist religious political party.
- Tehrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan or TJP. The Shia group also known as the Tehrik-e-Islami.
- Jamiat Ahle Hadith. A Wahabi-like religious political party of Pakistan have at times been members of the coalition.
JUI-S's withdrawal from party
The Sami-ul-Haq faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam left the party in late 2005 citing differences with JUI-F's Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman
and Jamaat-e-Islami's Qazi Hussain Ahmad
Rise to power
The MMA benefited immensely from two factors in the general elections of 2002: the sidelining of major political parties as well as anti-American sentiment in Pakistani border provinces because of the Afghan war in 2001. Since then, the MMA have been in power in two Pakistani provinces: NWFP and Balochistan
The MMA is the major Islamic political party of Pakistan. It is opposed by a number of secular political parties which reject the MMA's aspirations to establish a complete theocracy in Pakistan. Though Pakistan is a Muslim country and its constitution declares Shar'iah
as the law, there is not a unified consensus on what is shariah and what is not. Although the MMA has been able to exert a great deal of power over the poorest and least educated provinces of Pakistan (the NWFP and Balochistan), it has been completely prevented from influencing Pakistan's foreign policy. The MMA is highly opposed to Pakistan's friendship with the United States
and Pakistan's dedication to counter-terrorism and regional stability. Nor has the MMA been able to influence Pakistan's monetary and banking policies, whereas the MMA has demanded in Parliament that the interest
banking system be banned (the MMA's opposition has pointed out that the government itself would be unable to continue to operate without borrowing money from foreign banks). Some Pakistanis are suspicious of the MMA, as the MMA, by virtue of its nature as a professedly religious Islamic
party, openly states it desires the establishment of a theocracy
, and does not believe in the Western notion of a democracy
. The MMA's definition of democracy which is identical to theocracy is unacceptable to the MMA's opponents.
The MMA have sought to implement controversial legislation in NWFP, such as the proposed Shariat and Hisbah bills. The bills are disputed - some Pakistanis regard this as a serious abuse of government power and violation of human rights, while Islamic parties regard it as the implementation of legitimate Islamic laws, in line with the constitution of Pakistan, which makes it avowedly clear the fact that Pakistan is an Islamic republic with the law of Shari'a supreme. The Governor of NWFP has vowed that it will not be implemented and President Pervez Musharraf filed a reference against it in Pakistan's Supreme Court. The 9 member bench of the court declared certain clauses unconstitutional and directed the Governor not to sign it into law until it is revised. In a detailed verdict released on September 1, 2005, the Supreme Court stated that other clauses of the bill can be challenged as well. However, the elected senate approved over 90% of the bill.
War on Terror
Besides of their severe criticism of the "War on Terror", ambiguous attitude towards terrorism, and opposition to President Musharraf, the MMA have not interfered in anti-terrorism operations, whether it is law enforcement or military or paramilitary action.
The MMA has not supported the operations either.
"Hudood" Law controversy
The MMA threatened to resign from national and provincial assemblies in protest after Pakistan's parliament amended laws to transfer rape cases from its 'Sharia' courts to civil courts.
Sharia courts in Pakistan, which claim to be based on Islamic law, try rape cases under "Hudood" Ordinances instituted in 1979. According to critics of the ordinance, a rape victim could face adultery (or fornication if unmarried) charges unless she can produce four male Muslim witnesses of good character to her rape. Failing to do so entails a maximum sentence for adultery is death by stoning. However, Mufti Taqi Usmani, an instrumental figuring in making the Hudud Laws, has stated "If anyone says that she was punished because of Qazaf (false accusation of rape) then Qazaf Ordinance, Clause no. 3, Exemption no. 2 clearly states that if someone approaches the legal authorities with a rape complaint, she cannot be punished in case she is unable to present 4 witnesses. No court of law can be in its right mind to award such a punishment.
The Hudood Ordinances are widely condemned by women's rights groups in Pakistan, by some Islamists globally, and by international human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch.