Voting isn’t just a democratic duty, but a religious one as well. This is what Maulana Samiul Haq, the head of Darul Uloom Haqqania, said while strongly rejecting the Taliban’s view of voting as being ‘un-Islamic’.
“Voting is an important Islamic Shariah. Refusing to cast votes is equivalent to concealing evidence and Islam calls upon giving evidence. Islam deems all those who conceal evidence to be guilty”.
Maulana Samiul Haq, considered to be the teacher of many Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, said that asking people to boycott elections was an ‘unwise approach’ that the banned militant outfits were using.
Samiul Haq, who is also the head of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S), cited verses from the Holy Quran and cited Shariah law to support his view, while also appealing to clerics to use their Friday sermons to encourage people to participate in the elections.
But at the same time, the JUI-S leader warned that the “liberal” parties were taking advantage of the attacks, saying that if the Taliban continued their campaign of violence then voters might cast votes in favour of these political parties out of sympathy.
“These parties are now facing the consequences of what they have done. They (Taliban) consider them as their enemies and American agents,” Samiul Haq said, adding that the leaders of the three former allies in the ruling coalition had not anticipated the outcome of the policies they pursued.
“But I appeal to them (the Taliban) not to go to the extent that the people should perceive these parties to be innocent. I am afraid that if Taliban continues to attack them these parties could win the people’s sympathy,” he said.
The Taliban have continued attacks on the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for what they called their ‘secular doctrine’ and their support for operations against the militants in the tribal regions and Swat valley.
Pakistani Taliban and other armed militant groups have carried out more than 20 pre-election attacks on political parties, killing 46 people and wounding over 190 since April 21, Human Rights Watch has said.
On March 18, a spokesperson for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan declared elections part of an “un-Islamic democratic system which only serves the interests of infidels and enemies of Islam,” and warned voters to stay away from political rallies held by the parties. The rights group stated on Monday that PPP, MQM and the ANP were particularly at risk.
Earlier in April, another 24 people were killed and over 100 injured in election-related attacks.
Samiul-Haq said that the fate of the country could be changed through votes. He said voting could keep the ‘corrupt, criminals, robbers and American agents’ from the assemblies.
“By asking people not to cast votes they (Taliban) will leave the field open for bad people to enter the parliament,” he said, adding that the vote should not be cast on the basis of money, community, ethnicity, family and tribe but as an asset to be given to pious people.
He also endorsed a recently issued religious fatwa by the Chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council, Allama Tahir Ashrafi, which described casting of vote as a religious obligation under Islamic injunctions. He said the decree was the summary of several issued edicts by different school of thoughts.
Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, had rejected the fatwa, describing it as a figment of Tahir Ashrafi’s imagination.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2013.