World

Pakistan: Extremists pull strings of elections under nose of security agencies

Islamabad : The upcoming general elections in Pakistan are witnessing a nexus between security agencies and candidates, who have been fielded by banned religious and extremist outfits.
Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek's (AAT) candidate Hafiz Khalid Waleed is a case in point. Waleed is the son-in-law of the United Nations-designated terrorist, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.
Journalist Nasir Jamal indicates in The Dawn how some operatives of Milli Muslim League (MML), the political party launched by the banned Jamat-ud-Dawa, have access to the voter list and how they have printed the slips to help voters find their polling stations.
They plan to distribute these papers in the ongoing door-to-door canvassing for AAT's Waleed.
Political experts believe the brazen political activities by the proscribed extremist groups would not have been possible without the knowledge and even support of security agencies.
"Our candidates are mostly poor people who don't have enough capital like their PTI and PML-N counterparts. We're relying more on our door-to-door canvassing and corner meetings. That's why our election campaign is not so visible," The Dawn quoted Hafiz Khalid Waleed, as saying.
After Pakistan Election Commission (ECP) refused to recognise the MML as a political outfit citing its links with global terrorist Hafiz Saeed, it found a way out and stitched up an alliance with the AAT, without any check.
The Dawn further quotes Waleed as saying, "The ECP's refusal to register us as political party left us no choice. We approached a number of parties but none were willing to accommodate us for reasons you understand quite well."
The report further mentions that the AAT has fielded as many as 265 candidates, including six women, across Pakistan. Apart from Hafiz Waleed, the other prominent AAT candidate is none other than Talha Saeed, son of Hafiz Saeed.
Talha is contesting for a National Assembly seat from Sargodha.
Even in Pakistan, people and analysts are aware that the banned organisations could not have been in the electoral race without the support of the establishment.
Another extremist-turned-political aspirant is Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, the chief of the illegal sectarian group, Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah. He is fighting as an independent candidate from the Jhang constituency in Punjab.
Initially, the election body rejected his nomination papers stating that his name appears on the federal terror watch-list. But later he was removed from the "schedule four" list of people with links to terrorism and his bank accounts were unfrozen. He was then free to contest eelctions.
"We have 50 people contesting the elections for national and provincial seats from across Pakistan," the Maulana told The Dawn through telephone.
The English daily quoted the Maulana as further saying, "Some are contesting as independent candidates and others on the tickets of different parties," but falling short of naming the parties that issued tickets to the ASWJ candidates.
Under prevailing circumstances, there are apprehensions that some dreaded extremist groups might be able to heat up the seats of Pakistan's National Assembly.
General elections are scheduled to be held in Pakistan on July 25- to elect the members of the National Assembly and the four Provincial Assemblies. 

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