Religious parties fail to impress

ISLAMABAD: The new religious political parties failed to mark any impressive electoral success apart for Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA).

The combined strength of contestants of Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party (PRHP), Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT) and Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) was more than the candidates fielded by MMA.

MMA, an alliance of five Islamic parties – Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Jamaat-e-Islami, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith, Islami Tehreek and Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan  –, is leading from a dozen National Assembly constituencies mainly from the traditional stronghold of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Balochistan.

The alliance emerged as the conglomeration of distinct Islamist parties in 2002 when it contested under a single banner during the nationwide general elections the same year.

During the general election of 2002 when General (retd) Pervez Musharraf was ruling as the president of the country, the religious alliance of these parties not only formed government in K-P and Balochistan but also remained successful to secure the position of the opposition leader in the National Assembly.

However, by the time of the 2008 elections, their unity seemed to have unravelled as Jamat-e-Islami (JI) decided to boycott the elections while JUI-F opted to participate in the polls held after the assassination of the then Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Benazir Bhutto.

MMA had nominated a total of 192 candidates in general elections 2018 for the 272 directly elected constituencies of the National Assembly while TLP alone had fielded 178 contenders for the same. However, MMA’s focus lay in the restive regions of K-P and Balochistan where they enjoy a sizeable vote bank while TLP was eying seats from Punjab where it nominated 141 contestants with another 32 from Sindh, 16 from K-P and six from Balochistan.

The pattern of the candidates fielded by the fresh entrants revealed that two of these parties emerged from the other parties which were either declared proscribed or they were not allowed to be registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The PRHP emerged from Sipah-e-Sahaba party and AAT came to the front as a shadow party of the Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).

However, the real new emerging religious party in 2018 general election seemed to be TLP, which was formed by Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi and which was supposed to get support of Barelvi school of thought.

Meanwhile, TLP in a statement issued to media after unofficial results levelled serious allegations of rigging in the election and stated that mandate of the public was being changed. The leadership of TLP “is seriously looking into this matter of alleged rigging” and it threatened the authorities concerned including ECP with the consequences.


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