JUBAIL, SAUDI ARABIA: We should be grateful to the outside world, which is wishing for an undisrupted election in our country this coming May. However, I believe that this is not what is going to happen. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have clearly advised the general public about which parties they should not vote for or attend rallies of. They have threatened to attack rallies of liberal parties — the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), while they seem to have put their weight in favour of right-wing religious and political parties. In the recent past, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has witnessed repeated attacks on ANP-related political rallies. One would fear an exponential increase in such acts of violence against liberal parties. At the same time, right-wing religious political parties are able to hold huge rallies in Peshawar, Swat, Lahore, Quetta and Karachi, wherein Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif, Fazlur Rahman and Munawwar Hassan have addressed their supporters.
Pakistan’s commercial capital — Karachi — is already under siege by the TTP, which have established their writ in the outskirts of the city. Reports suggest that many of Karachi’s Pashtun-dominated localities are now controlled by armed Taliban militants, who have expelled the ANP’s political workers from their areas of influence. It was the shortsightedness of previous governments that ignored the massive influx of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) from K-P, Swat and Fata, who brought with them embedded Taliban members. Karachi’s political forces — the MQM, the ANP and the PPP — are now threatened with the presence of the Taliban not only in the outskirts but also in the heart of the city. Permitting sectarian outfits to run for election is also a grave mistake, which will further open the Pandora’s box of sectarian violence in the country.
As Pakistan moves towards elections in May, it is unfortunate that right-wing religious/sectarian and political parties will get undue benefit from the covert support of the Taliban. This may not give a level playing field to liberal parties, resulting in an outcome which may leave bitter memories for the years to come.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2013.
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