Terrorists Camouflaged As Politicians were Rejected by the People Of Pakistan but...

Terrorists Camouflaged As Politicians were Rejected by the People Of Pakistan but not by Imran Khan

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Aurangzeb Farooqi is a leader of a political party that is banned in Pakistan for espousing sectarian violence. He faces charges of spreading religious hatred that was linked to the murders of several Shiite activists.

He was also a candidate for national political office, running with the blessing of Pakistani courts.

Farooqi was among several candidates with ties to Islamist extremist groups who were the subject of last-ditch petitions by activists seeking to bar them from contesting elections this month. An election tribunal had thrown out those petitions , claiming there were not enough valid complaints to justify barring the candidates.

Despite publicly proclaimed campaigns against religious extremism, the ability of candidates like Farooqi to campaign had clearly suggested that far from being curbed, extremists were being encouraged by the DEEP STATE. Even a new party called Tehreek-e-Labbaik was approved to run on a platform of punishing those who blaspheme Islam, an issue that has been abused to terrorise the country’s minorities.

Farooqi and several others had contested the July 25 elections even though they were on Pakistan’s terrorism watch list, known as the “fourth schedule.”

While that list prevented them from interacting with crowds in public, travelling outside certain areas and using their bank accounts, it did not say whether they could run for office. But activists and anti-terrorism law enforcement officers claimed that the restrictions, such as organising public rallies, would prevent them from campaigning.

Such candidacies were all the more remarkable because Pakistan was just been returned to a “grey list” by the Financial Action Task Force, a global body based in Paris that fights terrorism financing, for not doing enough to counter terrorists’ ability to operate from Pakistani territory. The country had been off the list since 2015.

To prevent being blacklisted by the task force, which could lead to international sanctions, Pakistan had then agreed to an action plan to crack down on terrorism at home. But almost simultaneously, Pakistan’s electoral commission had paved the way for candidates with extremist ties to run for office.

Some of the petitioners were victims of the terrorism they say was inflicted upon their communities by candidates like Farooqi. He is a leader of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, a banned radical group that incites hatred and violence against Pakistan’s minority Shiite population. ASWJ is widely believed to be the political front for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an even deadlier sectarian militant group with ties to al-Qaeda. The party denies any link.

With all obstacles to his candidacy removed, Farooqi contested for a parliamentary seat representing Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, and seemed to have a good chance of winning after losing the last election in 2013 by 202 votes.

“Why are these terrorists now allowed to become our parliamentarians?” had demanded Asad Gokal, 20, in an interview in Karachi. Gokal was one of the activists petitioning against Farooqi’s candidacy.

His voice had shaken with anger as he described how the Karachi crowds Farooqi has incited in recent years, preaching anti-Shiite sermons that Gokal believes led to the murder of his uncle and friend. In video clips of Farooqi’s speeches, he could be seen shouting, “Shia are infidels!”

“I’m a university student,” Gokal had said. “This shouldn’t be my duty — the Election Commission of Pakistan should be monitoring these groups.” Instead, he had accused, the government is giving them legitimacy.

Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, a Sunni cleric who runs the ASWJ with Farooqi as his deputy, was quietly taken off the terrorism watch list, , just as Ludhianvi announced his candidacy. Yet the party remained on a watch list issued by Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority.

Military pressure was thought to be behind Ludhianvi’s removal from the fourth schedule. He was taken off the list by the country’s caretaker government, which forms during every election to ensure that the vote is fair but is not supposed to make these kinds of decisions.

Altaf Khan, spokesman for Pakistan’s permanent election commission, said the commission simply followed court orders. But activists and politicians accused that even the courts were influenced by the military, which had undertaken numerous coups in the country’s modern history.The military simply denied that it influences the courts.

“The international community will have to respect the sovereignty and laws of my country,” Khan had said in an interview. Anyone having a complaint against a candidate supported by evidence, he had said, “they should let us know.”

Omar Shahid Hamid, senior police superintendent for Karachi’s southern district, used to conduct regular check-ins with Farooqi as a member of the police counter terrorism unit. He had said he was surprised that Farooqi’s nomination papers were not rejected, but not that he was running.

“Farooqi has always had an interest in electoral politics and a desire to get mainstreamed, to be accepted as a political force and get rid of his baggage as a militant,” Hamid said. “They see this as the future, the only way forward with the establishment.”

In Pakistan, “the establishment” is code for the military which, in recent years has discussed plans to “mainstream” extremists, allowing them to shed their violent pasts and become politicians. It is a plan opposed by the incumbent government and activists across the country.

Noticeably absent from the list of eligible election candidates were several from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The party formed the previous government and saw its prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, ousted by the Supreme Court for failing to disclose assets abroad in his 2013 election application. A Pakistani court also convicted Sharif of corruption and sentenced him in absentia to 10 years in prison.

Sharif accused the military for pressurizing the courts to disqualify him as prime minister and bar him from future electoral bids.

During his tenure, Sharif had tried to reassert his civilian government’s control of Pakistan’s defence and foreign policy, which the military has had in its firm grip for decades. He also openly challenged the military’s support for terrorist groups and opposed its plans to mainstream radicals.

In the current election, a court decision disqualifying Sharif’s replacement as prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, was reversed at the last minute, leaving him barely a month to campaign. By that time, Farooqi was already campaigning with confidence in his impoverished Karachi neighbourhood.

However, the common people of Pakistan simply rejected these terrorists and not one single candidate, was one from such terrorists outfits. It seemed there was still some hope left for Pakistan.

However the new elected Government led by Imran Khan is once again proving otherwise. He is regularly throwing GOOGLIES at the very root of Democracy still trying to come out if confinement.