By Mujahid Hussain, New Age Islam
May 1, 2013
The first elections of Pakistan’s history are going to be marred by terrorism and extremism because Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and all the factions linked to it have agreed on the point that the ‘political change’ in Pakistan can only be achieved by attacking and frightening targeted political parties. This is a unique method to influence elections and get desired results in any country as apparently the results are already showing. Such fatal attacks have begun in three state capitals – Quetta, Karachi and Peshawar. Clear targets are Pakistan People’s Party, Awami National Party and Muhajir Qaumi Movement that had been allies in the previous government. If we keenly study the developments in the last five years, we will find that these parties set an example of establishing a better relationship with the powerful institution of Pakistani army. The army and other security agencies are unable to provide security to these political parties because the army itself is the target and as the time for the withdrawal of NATO from Afghanistan is drawing closer, the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are deteriorating. The freeze in the tripartite meeting in Brussels indicates that neither Pakistan is willing to talk to Afghanistan with an open heart nor America is ready to accept any claim of reduction in the import of terrorism from Pakistan borders to Afghanistan. Afghanistan administration is annoyed with the Pakistan administration on the issue of terrorism and it believes that if the extremists present inside Pakistan stop infiltrating into Afghanistan, Afghanistan will experience a better peace situation.
To ensure victory in the elections, one of the political beneficiaries of the unconditional support of the Taliban in Pakistan, Pakistan Muslim League-N has succeeded in roping in the former extremists and communal forces who can not only help in the increase of their seats in Parliament but also provide armed support on some sensitive election centres on May 11. Nawaz League has no time to ponder over what the communal implications of such adventures would be because he is facing strong competition from Imran Khan who is looking for some unexpected gains as he has already claimed to have crushed the People’s Party in Punjab and is anxiously waiting for May 11. The Taliban and their comrades do not want to attack Imran Khan because a guess cannot be made about a confused Imran Khan about his ambitions and objectives and the collective thought of his party in advance. Imran Khan’s propagandists have been showing him as offering Namaz in election posters. He is not presented as a hero of cricket that is an invention of the ‘Kafirs’ nor the glimpses of his cricketing engagements can be found anywhere. It is to be noted that one of the respected names of the architects of the Talibani thought in Pakistan is late Dr Israr Ahmad who had issued a fatwa in the nineties that Imran Khan’s rubbing of the cricket ball on his thighs was an un-Islamic act and so he should renounce it and express his tauba.
On the other hand, our dear Maulana Fazl ur Rehman has been attacked twice by one of Taliban’s affiliates in the past but recently the Taliban have made it clear that that they will not attack the election rallies of Maulana Fazl ur Rehman. Undoubtedly, Maulana Fazl ur Rehman’s madrasas have been alma mater of numerous Taliban fighters and many are still receiving religious education in them. Similarly, there is also no doubt in that Maulana Fazl ur Rehman will also not hesitate in finalising any deals with Taliban in future. Their biggest dilemma at the moment is the fact that two of their supported political parties – Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim Nawaz are at loggerheads and secular parties like the People’s Party, Awami National Party or Muhajir Qaumi Movement can benefit from the infighting. The fourth beneficiary of the unconditional support of the Taliban, the Jama’at-e-Islami is the weakest of them all and is so overwhelmed with the spell of the sanctity of its cadre that no ally can tolerate them. The Jama’at-e- Islami first leaned towards the Nawaz League but seeing no desired results bent towards Tehreek-e-Insaf. But their traditional sanctity got in the way of an alliance with them too. But mere armed support of the Taliban may hardly win Jama’at any seats.
The possibility that the Taliban and its affiliates may appeal to their supported parties a few days before elections to shun their political differences and fight the ‘atheistic and liberal parties’ collectively cannot be denied. But this demand will be confusing for these parties and the Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz may never reach any alliance. The same situation is with Maulana Fazl ur Rehman’s party that abhors any alliance with these political parties.
Suppose that all such parties emerge victorious on May 11 and need the support of each other to form the government, in the present situation no single party can obtain the required majority to form the government. When all the parties fail to agree on one leader in the parliament, Mullah Umar or Hakimullah Mahsood may be consulted for special orders and, if he issues the order that Maulana Fazl ur Rehman or Munawwar Hussain should be given the responsibility, will Imran Khan or Mian Nawaz Sharif agree to such a decision? Much cab be written on this hypothesis but finally we have to agree on one conclusion that now the Taliban have issued orders of attack on the new government and they will keep issuing statements owning up the ensuing attacks.
Basically it was an opportunity for the political parties of Pakistan when the Taliban had started distributing the certificates of appreciation and dislike to parties to declare that they will not tolerate terrorism at any cost, be it against any one. But unfortunately, Taliban’s manoeuvres have been used for personal interests and to push the secular and liberal parties to the wall. Muslim League Nawaz standing close to victory in Punjab remained silent because otherwise it would lose the support of extremists in South Punjab while Imran Khan did not say anything in the face of the fear of losing expected seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The sole ray of hope for the Jama’at Islami is the destruction of MQM at the hands of Taliban as they can reclaim some of the seats robbed by MQM.
In short, the new trend of agreeing on the death of the opponent for the victory in elections is catching up in Pakistan which will only strengthen apprehensions about the state. It has to be seen which party adopts what policy vis a vis terrorism and communalism in Pakistan after the elections. Will the decisions be taken after keeping facts and evidences in mind or will the extremists be given a free hand to indulge in terrorism and drive out the minorities from the country. There is no doubt that the forthcoming elections are not only very important for the continuity of the democratic process in Pakistan but will also be decisive and consequential in shaping the future of the Pakistani state.
Mujahid Hussain is Brussels Bureau Chief of New Age Islam. He is author of nine books including the recently published book ‘Punjabi Taliban’. He has been writing for various newspapers as an investigative journalist for the last two decades. His writings cover a wide range of issues involving Pakistan. In recent years, local, regional and international affairs relating to terrorism and security have been the subject of his study.