Hardline Islamic Political parties have brought religion to the centre-stage of Pakistan General Election due on July 25, 2018. Apart from the mainstream parties comprising the political party of the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is now behind the bars on charges of corruption and the political party of former cricketer Imran Khan who is considered as a favourite pick of Pakistan military, there is a flood of Islamist groups who have sprung up to contest the poll. Latter have brought Islamic law or Sharia as the prime premise of the elections. Latter is seen as an acceptance of the proposal which was laid by Pakistani army to bring armed Islamic wings to mainstream politics of the nation through elections. Pakistani military has, however, any links with them.
Although, these parties stand little chance to win the election, yet their possibility of grabbing a few seats in Parliament cannot be ruled out. Their ultra-extremist rhetoric and conservative outlook has changed the whole election sphere. Nearly 1500 candidates are being fielded by the religiously-motivated groups which have established links with militants. These candidates are continually attacking the mainstream leaders as servants of West which will take the nation away from Islam.
Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan is openly campaigning under the banner of “death to blasphemers”. It is putting 566 candidates alone to the election. These attack the PML-N candidates as blasphemers. Tehreel-e-Labaik is a registered and a legal party but many banned groups are also fielding candidates. Hafiz Saeed’s Islamic Charity was rejected against registering a political party so the group fielded candidates under the banner of an existing party, Allahu Akbar Tehreek which is openly campaigning with the posters of Saeed. Latter has been accused of masterminding terror attacks on Indian Financial capital, Mumbai, in 2008 for which US also kept a reward of $10 million for his conviction.
Another party, ASWJ i.e. Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jammat which is banned as the political arm of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, is also putting many candidates. ASWJ has denied any links with LeJ. Election Commision of Pakistan has stated that no banned or illegal group is contesting the elections and all parties have gone through the legal process.