‘Be afraid’: Pakistan politicians raise alarm over militants contesting general election
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‘Be afraid’: Pakistan politicians raise alarm over militants contesting general election

Pakistan’s politicians have raised an alarm over the large number of members of militant organisations contesting the general elections.

world Updated: Jul 22, 2018 11:21 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan elections,Pakistan,Jamaat-ud Dawah
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (C), chief of the Islamic charity organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), joins hands with Saeed Ahmed Gujar (R) nominated candidate of political party, Milli Muslim League (MML), as he attend a campaign rally, ahead of general elections in Islamabad, Pakistan July 21, 2018. (Reuters File Photo)

Pakistan’s politicians have raised an alarm over the large number of members of militant organisations contesting the general elections scheduled for July 25.

Many of these militants, including those belonging to the Jamaat-ud Dawah and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik, were allowed by the Election Commission to contest the polls after their names were removed from the fourth schedule — a list of proscribed individuals who are suspected of terrorism or sectarianism under Pakistan’s anti-terror laws.

The name of a suspect is usually placed on the fourth schedule for three years, which can be extended if needed. It disqualifies the person from a number of activities, including leaving the country and standing for elections.

Senator Afrasiab Khattak of the Awami National Party, tweeted earlier this week: “Apart from setting up a puppet government, the other main purpose of the current electoral drama seems to be giving a new lease of life to religious militants by dressing them up as people’s representatives so that the demand for acting against them can be silenced for ever.”

PML-N leader Pervaiz Rasheed, a former information minister, has estimated that hundreds of such candidates are standing for elections. He expressed surprise on how many of these terrorists saw their names removed from the fourth schedule with ease. “No one seems to be worried about this trend,” he said. “No one is talking about it.”

He added that candidates could not be expected to run peaceful election campaigns when “people from the fourth schedule are being allowed to contest the poll”.

“Be afraid of the day when those people will be present in the House,” he warned.

Former chairman of the Senate, Raza Rabbani, said that the participation of alleged members of banned outfits in the elections is a new phenomenon that was emerging on the model of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal. “The interior minister should reveal how (members of) banned organisations were allowed to contest the elections,” he said, adding the government did not have any clue at this stage.

In a reference to the TLP, Rabbani observed that 150 members of the “party that staged the sit-in at Faizabad” are candidates for National Assembly seats. Members of Allah-hu-Akbar Tehreek (AAT) —most of whom belong to Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) — are also contesting the polls, he noted. “What will the atmosphere of the parliament look like if even 25 of such people are elected?” he said.

Meanwhile, Washington too expressed its concern over the participation of individuals affiliated to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and conveyed its apprehension to Islamabad, the US state department said in a statement.

The department however also noted with satisfaction that the Election Commission had rejected the registration of the Milli Muslim League (MML) in June, “citing its linkages to LeT, an internationally-sanctioned terrorist organisation”.

The statement pointed out that the department also amended its Foreign Terrorist Organisation designation of LeT in April to add the MML as an LeT alias.

First Published: Jul 22, 2018 08:55 IST