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Seeking Electoral Support From Extremists Is A Practice That Needs To Change For Good

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Despite the government move of expanding the list of proscribed organisations, there is still a common practice of candidates seeking electoral support from them during almost all elections.

The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) issued the updated list on March 4, which puts Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), Laskar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and others on the top.

The list is prepared by NACTA based on the notifications issued by Ministry of Interior.

Four organisations, including Jamaat-ul-Da’awa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), have placed on watch list by Ministry of Interior u/s 11-D-(1) r/w Schedule-II, ATA 1997.

The government under section 11-B of Anti Terrorism Act can declare an organisation believed to be concerned with terrorism as a Proscribed Organisation or put it under surveillance.

However, news surface during almost every election year regarding members of mainstream political parties seeking support from these banned outfits.

Last year, Finance Minister Asad Umer had announced that the founder of banned Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil had joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), drawing condemnation.

Terrorism analyst Bill Roggio questioned the latest crackdown against banned outfits, considering that Rehman Khalil is part of the ruling party.

Now that’s a crackdown! Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, the founder of the banned Harkat-ul Mujahideen who signed Al Qaeda/Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa against “Crusaders and Zionists,” join the the PTI, the ruling political party of Imran Khan. https://t.co/ydNIed4tO9

— Bill Roggio (@billroggio) March 6, 2019

Similarly, President Arif Alvi had met Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) leaders to seek support in elections.

Moreover, a member of militant Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat Muavia Azam had announced support for the PTI during elections of provincial assembly.

State Interior Minister Shehryar Afridi, who is to head the crackdown against militants, was seen meeting with the members of Jamaat ud Dawa  and extending the ruling party’s support to them.

Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed also has a history of associating with the extremist groups.

There are also pictures of local leaders of the ruling party making contacts with the banned outfits.

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Faisal Jibwana had met both Sipah-e-Sahaba chief Ahmed Ludhianvi and Muavia Azam Tariq.

Hamza Ali Abbasi, PTI supporter and close aide of Imran Khan, had shared a picture with Hafiz Saeed, saying that Saeed is the most “misunderstood” man in Pakistan who preaches “tolerance”.

Moreover, Pakistan Rangers had also distributed cheques of Rs1,000 to Tehreek-e-Labaik protesters after they had staged a sit-in at Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad, practically paralysing life in the twin cities.

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