Pakistan: Military-Linked Candidates Jump into Election Fray, Running Against Jihadis

Supporters of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a religious parties alliance waves flags during a public meeting in Lahore on May 13, 2018, in the connection of upcoming election. - Six mainstream religious parties of Pakistan had decided to restore Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), ten years after the political alliance was dissolved over …
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The looming general elections in Pakistan will see candidates backed by the nation’s powerful military establishment run against more than 200 contenders affiliated with the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) wing of U.S.-designated terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

According to Geo News, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, identified by Firstpost as the military establishment’s favorite, is backing many candidates accused of heinous crimes like rape and murder.

Firspost acknowledges that, besides the promises to change Pakistan’s image if elected, this year’s election, scheduled for July 25, is also about the overall influence the military has over the government. 

“The upcoming election is due to be held at a time of growing political instability, with the ruling PML-N party accusing the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since independence in 1947, of interfering in politics and trying to weaken it. The military denies involvement in politics,” Reuters notes.

“The influence of Pakistan’s security establishment is viewed as overwhelming even in political affairs,” Firstpost adds.

Islamabad has been unable to halt the “political mainstreaming” of at least 265 Islamic extremists linked to the JuD terrorist group and about 2,720 candidates charged with crimes ranging from corruption and rape to human smuggling and murder, rendering the country’s upcoming race a springboard for radicals and alleged criminals. 

Some of the Pakistani candidates charged with crimes have been linked to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that has reportedly earned the military establishment’s backing.

The Pakistani military establishment is believed to have abandoned the ruling PML-N and is considering installing Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party leader Imran Khan as the country’s next prime minister. 

“Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is considered Sharif’s main rival in the elections not only because of politics but because of his close ties with the military,” Firstpost reports.

“Ahead of the 25 July polls in Pakistan, election campaigns have gained momentum across the country, with several political parties and independent leaders vowing to change the country’s image if elected. There is also a debate on the influence and role of the military in these elections,” it adds.

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