Banned outfits all set to contest Pakistan polls

 Sarfraz Ali

LAHORE: Religious extremist groups and banned outfits have fielded 62 candidates for upcoming polls which considered ever high ratio in Pakistan’s electoral history, facing charges of sectarian killings, terrorism and anti-state activities under 4th schedule of anti-terrorism act. They have kicked off their election drive after getting clean chit from election commission amid alarming concerns of international community fearing that Taliban like people might hold the atomic power country.

The electioneering, government inaction, election commission baptism and surprisingly complete silence by political parties specially Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-i-Azam (PML-Q) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are enough to validate the internationally-established dogma that the Pakistan state is itself patronizing the extremists elements and by the core of hearts it wants radicals to hold parliament in the results of 2013 elections.

The Ahle Sunnat Waljmat (ASW), a new face of Sipha-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Muttahida Deeni Mahaz, Tehreek-e-Jafria, Harkatul Mujahiden, Tehrik ul Nisar have placed their candidates in the constituencies of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces.

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) sources revealed that four candidates of Ahle Sunnat Waljmat (ASW) including head Maulana Ahmed Ludhiyanvi, Maulana Mawiya (son of late Maulana Azam Tariq), Maulana Ashraf Hassiyanvi, Muhammad Yousaf Rahimi hit hard by 4th schedule of the ACT had made their way clear to reach the parliament as election commission had allowed them to contest the elections. 

Things are looking to be in complete disarray as on the one hand, election commission welcomed banned outfits for polls and on the other hand rejected nomination papers of merely 15 elections candidates due to their inclusion in 4th schedule of the Act. It seems to be eyewash to quell the voices of dissent and satisfy international community that caretaker government has sprung into action against extremists by busting and putting them in house arrest. But it avoided barring these element through constitutional embargo enforcing 62 and 63 clauses.

ASW central secretary general Dr. Khadim Hussain said that party members faced just charges which had yet to be proved and unless they stood guilty, constitution gave them right to contest the election. “We are trying to putting them on the path of political process instead of arming them with guns to help contribute for the development of country but government has launched ruthless crackdown against them,” he explained.

Former Supreme Court Bar Court Association (SCBA) General Secretary Qamar ul Zaman Qureshi said Returning Officers (ROs) accepted the nomination papers of the candidates of banned outfits as they feared that if rejected, they might be subjected to severe torture and killed. “Government’s writ fades in their domains so caretaker set-up has no courage and security paraphernalia to curb the radicals,” he said.

A senior bureaucrat spilled the beans that banned outfits, politicians and even previous governments had obvious friendly relationship. PML-N and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi close ties had already exposed. PML-N former Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi men found running by-polls campaigns in 2009. PPP previous regime also confessed to get the seats from north Punjab with the help of Sipha-e-Sahaba Pakistan in 2008 polls.

Deputy Secretary of defunct Sipah-e-Sahaba Punjab group Rao Javeed Iqbal had also joined  PPP at an electioneering rally in presence of late Governor Salman Taseer in 2008.

Laying bare the facts, US diplomat in Pakistan said that several terrorist and criminal groups are "backed by security establishment, the secret agencies and other armed bodies of the state". “We are observing the situation minutely how extremists qualified to contest the 2013 elections.”

Former president Pervez Musharraf said in his latest interview conceded that his forces trained militant groups to ″fight India″ in Indian-administered Kashmir. He confessed that the government ″turned a blind eye″ because it wanted to force India to enter negotiations.

After reports made some headlines that political parties are tightening their lips on fanatics’ inclusion in elections, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan has started blaming the federal government for providing “safe haven” to terrorists responsible for the rising sectarian violence in the country. Maintaining that there can be no future of the country if terrorism is not controlled, Khan said, “The people of Karachi should not vote for parties with militant, terrorist wings.”

However, a step has been taken by caretaker government as face-saving attempt that ministry of information and broadcasting has written letters to the media representative bodies and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) asking private media to avoid carrying the statements of banned outfits in the light of the orders of the Balochistan High Court.

The concise statement has been submitted by the Ministry of Information in compliance with the BHC judgement dated April 9, 2013. According to the statement, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in consultation with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued a code of conduct for print and electronic media as well as for the political parties wherein a ban has been imposed on speeches and statements of outlawed organizations involved in sectarian and terrorists activities.

In this regard, PEMRA has specifically imposed financial penalties on a number of channels for violating the terms and conditions of their licences, whereby they are supposed to observe an acceptable code of conduct as per relevant law, the statement said. The ministry says it believes that the organisations banned under Section 11-B of Anti Terrorism Act-1997 should not be allowed to use print and electronic media for propagation of hate literature and negative material which is considered unlawful under the relevant laws of the land.

Under the critical situation, foreign election observers have arrived to have a close watch to endorse transparency and validity of elections process. And if these radicals are not stopped, these observers would definitely release reports to their countries and UN that radical are going to be new rulers of Pakistan so better to declare Pakistan a terrorist country in advance to save world from another Afghanistan and Iraq.

It may be recalled that 40,000 Pakistanis had been killed in terrorism related activities and government had closed down mobile phone service in 5 times.

The writer is Lahore based journalist and can be contacted a sarfraz1168@yahoo.com