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Terrorising Pakistan’s secular parties

Published Apr 27, 2013 06:29pm


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Mourners react following funeral prayers for supporters of Pakistani secular party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) killed in an overnight bomb explosion in Karachi on April 26, 2013. — AFP Photo

The Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) announced in December, officially, that they would specifically target Pakistan’s secular parties: Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Since then, many have died, many have been injured, much infrastructure lost, and election campaigns damaged if not wrapped up altogether.

In the last four days in Karachi alone, there have been three attacks – two on ANP (the blast and an attempt on the life of ANP candidate Abdul Rehman Khan) and one on the MQM.  In Peshawar last week, an attack tried unsuccessfully to claim the life of the slain Bashir Bilour’s son, Haroon Bilour. Ghulam Bilour, Bashir’s brother and former railways minister, narrowly escaped with his life. Several other attacks have taken place on small rallies, corner meetings, and prominent and local party leaders, as well as party offices.

In the meanwhile, while these parties shout themselves hoarse condemning the attacks and calling for security in the wake of a devastating onslaught on their electoral aspirations, other parties remain ominously silent. Punjab has managed to avoid the kind of violence Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have faced over the last month or two – and so, it appears, the province’s mainstream parties have decided to stay quiet and not raise a hue and cry over what can only be called systematic and strategic terrorism.

There are a number of consequences to be considered as a result of this violence. The idea of ‘free and fair’ elections is slowly being eroded – if certain parties are not being allowed to campaign as they please out of fear for their lives, they are not playing on a level playing field. Moreover, Pakistan’s voting population is now being forced to think along the lines of ‘secular vs non-secular’ although this was not necessarily an important voting consideration for a large section of the population. Whether this is becoming an increasingly important criterion is yet to be seen.

What do you think can be done to ensure the security of candidates and voters in the run-up to elections? Is there any short-term solution? Is the silence of other parties justified as a survival tactic or does their silence make them indirectly complicit? Will the wave of terror unleashed seriously erode the votes of these parties or will sympathy votes be able to somewhat compensate in terms of numbers lost and won?


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Comments (45) Closed

Yawar Apr 28, 2013 01:35pm
This is neither a game nor a conspiracy. Everyone know which organizations these terrorists belong to. If we want to bury our heads in the sand and make statements like "whoever is responsible" or "whoever is doing this" then we are playing right into the hands of the terrorists.
Atique Ahmed Apr 28, 2013 01:03pm
Shame TTP and other terrorists organisations can openly commit these atrocities.
Mustafa Apr 28, 2013 07:38pm
A good question to General Kayani to answer. But if you feel your fate will be same as Pervez Musharraf, take care of all enemies of Pakistan whether miitants, terrorosts, corrupt politicians and corrupt lawyers and judges before you hand over Pakistan to true democratic government.
Anwar Qureshi Apr 28, 2013 12:00pm
Pakistan was created in the name of Islam; therefore, its called Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Hence, there is no room for any political party trumpeting secularism or enlightened moderation. PPPP, MQM and ANP did nothing to control law and order situation. Why they are clamoring now. Let them bear the brunt. Why they are saying they will contest 2013 election until their last worker; let the leaders die first, why poor people. General people should avoid to go to their gatherings. Save yourself and save your skin. If you are safe, then Pakistan will be safe, not with these corrupt politicians. They have robbed Pakistan wealth in the last 5 years. You all enjoy their clamoring!!!!
Michael diaz Apr 28, 2013 03:55pm
Public should reject all those parties who did not condemn these attacks should vote for mqm .
IMTIAZ FARUQUI Apr 28, 2013 12:53pm
Are these parties PPP and MQM Non-Muslims, and PML and other parties are Muslims. Religon around the world is playing the worst part today, brother pitted against brother, so sad , Wake up.
mike jackson Apr 28, 2013 04:09pm
This is a spin and nothing else. TTP is the terror wing of PMLN . There are a Punjab based organization and of course based on Khalsa theology that they practice .. they have to spare their own... Regards Mike
Agha Ata (USA) Apr 28, 2013 01:43pm
It is sad to think that PTI is not going to have a secular agenda. At least Taliban do not think so. There must be some understanding between the two about it. So, Pakistan that Jinnah created and was lost in history, and Imran Khan promised to bring it back, is no more certain. :( Apr 28, 2013 01:43pm
Please bring in military - thats what this country deserve!
Yawar Apr 28, 2013 01:38pm
Wake up and do what, and against whom, and where?
Satyameva Jayate Apr 29, 2013 11:35am
If TTP were contesting elections, in Pakistan, they could easily become the largest winning party. But they do not have enough persons who could qualify as candidates.
EmMoosa Apr 28, 2013 02:35pm
Army should intervene and bring in a non political based parties government consists of technocrates for next five years. That government should properly be monitored by international judges. Pakistanis judicial system is completely biased and all the supreme court judges should be sent home immediately.
fazalpai Apr 27, 2013 03:03pm
Mostly,in our region. i.e.sub continent and afghanistan, we have a tendency to target the OPPONENTS only. Religious, secular or other reason are irrevelent.
Agha Ata (USA) Apr 27, 2013 03:15pm
The army should come forward declaring it a fully fledged war against terrorists.
Riaz Ahmad Apr 28, 2013 02:19pm
Secular or otherwise are labels appropriate for proper and civilised politics; please do not accord respectable political lables to shameless and vile politics.
Riaz Ahmad Apr 28, 2013 02:12pm
Kayani asked the Parliament to pass the terrorism bill, to empower the forces with an effective tool to legally arrest and detain terrorism suspects; the parliament did not batter a eye lid. The object of the politicians was for the army and ISI to get a bad name nationally and internationally, accused of illegal detentions and abuctions; in logger heads with the supreme court orders. They were creating strife between the armed forces and supreme court. Just to remind the readers, in Europe and America, anti-terrorism lagislation was passed immediately and with complete public and parliamentry cooperation. Pakistani parliament played political games with the forces fighting terrorism. They accorded themselves heavy and expensive protection, leaving the public at the mercy of the bombers. The politicians wanted the army to remain bogged down in terrorirm for long time to come. Now the chickens are comming home to roost; they are getting a taste of what the long suffering public was going through. NO SYMPATHY FOR THESE LOOTING MORONS, THEY ARE REAPING THE REWARD OF THEIR OWN CUNNING AND CRUEL INTENTIONS.
AR Apr 27, 2013 05:21pm
At least PTI has condemned these attacks several times which is appreciable.
Agha Ata (USA) Apr 27, 2013 06:15pm
How many more bombs need to be exploded to wake the army up?
syed Apr 27, 2013 07:35pm
The Elections should be delayed, the Army needs to take over this country to save it. I fear for Pakistan and its people under the current circumstances. Pakistani people should think if the terrorist can go anywhere and attack, can they also penetrate attack the increasing nuclear facilities in Pakistan?
waleed awan Apr 27, 2013 08:23pm
sana Apr 27, 2013 09:09pm
its really someone who are on the back of TTP, are pulling the strings to delay elections in Pakistan. Anyway PPP, MQM and ANP has always brought the worst for the People of Pakistan. PML-N are also the product of NRO and Charter of Democracy. Lets only hope better for Pakistan, we have seen the worse since 1999 till now and God knows for how long our misery will continue!!!!!!!
ali ahmed Apr 28, 2013 03:17pm
Judiciary is a new political party and a new experince of pakistan.Now westerned power launched Iftikhar ch.and judiciary to break pakistan
Yawar Apr 28, 2013 02:11am
The silence or luke warm condemnations expressed by some of the right wing parties and the Supreme Court will only encourage TTP and other extremist groups to continue targeting MQM, PPP and ANP. Why are there no operations being conducted against the perpetrators?
Mustafa Apr 28, 2013 02:19am
Excellent article Democracy means the people of Pakistan through their elected representatives decide what type of government Pakistan will have, it is defeat of democracy if a bunch of Pakistanis declare a party secular party and through terrorism embark on eliminating what they consider secular party. Unfortunate neither the government nor the judiciary has any mechanism available to destroy and eliminate the enemies of democracy. The last resort is for the military to step in and save democracy in Pakistan whether the government of judiciary likes it or not. Without the intervention of military, the militants and terrorists will continue killings of innocent people to force their will on people thus killing democracy in Pakistan.
Saif Apr 28, 2013 03:04pm
You don't openly condem the violence. Response is wrapped up in diplomatic wording that level field should be provided. But no condemenation of actual violence.
nk Apr 28, 2013 02:34am
you can see a quite support from most of the religious parties none of them has condemned these can also see a bias from courts and authorities.I hope people take action on polling day against these religious nuts by voting for moderate parties thus saving the country.
gagan Apr 28, 2013 06:39pm
today m .al jinnah would be very happy
janjuah Apr 28, 2013 06:51am
Being a PTI supporter it is our opinion that whoever is behind this conspiracy the game is not fair and if all parties are not given equal chance ..we can not expect any good for the nation...regardless of whoever comes in power...we condemn all this at every level...
Irfan Baloch Apr 28, 2013 06:59am
we collectively show a lack of shame on international & national reasons of sectarian & religious terrorism both have same sources time & again exposed by wikileaks just like internationally we shy away from demanding our Arab "brothers" to stop funding the fanatics & criticize their actions, we also fail to open heartedly & openly criticize & condemn the brutalities of taliban out of fear for faith & life as far as we our selves are not targeted thats fine. do recall that when these religious party leaders call these taliban "our angry brothers" then how can they condemn them? their ready made response will be drone attacks & Pak army doing American bidding in Waziristan.
rohan Apr 28, 2013 07:20am
There is no scope of secular party in Pakistan untill it is a Islamic state
faaziz Apr 28, 2013 08:29am
Don't generalize the whole sub-continent by using the word "we". There are people who abhor violent means.
Harry Bowman Apr 28, 2013 05:02pm
Pakistan has no secular parties. None of these groups explicitly call for a legal system in which Sharia is not law. I'm not an expert on Pakistani law, but I suspect a party which did so would have its candidates disqualified. They could possibly even be prosecuted for blasphemy.
YA Apr 28, 2013 09:42pm
MQM, PPP and ANP are murdered for being secular, wait a couple of years and it will be PTI and PML-N who will be secular, and after that it will be parties like the Jamat i Islami. This menace is not an isolated phenomenon created by some event in History but is symptomatic of a society which cannot see compassion or Humanity without their Islamic sunglasses . This is country where secularism is in the name of Islam, conservatism is in the name of Islam, terrorism is in the name of Islam and fighting terrorism is in the name of Islam, everything starts and end in the name of Islam. Everyone's point of view comes from the Quran and Sunnah so how can anyone be wrong, there is simply no room for flexibility because everyone is following Divinity. Since divine law is not debatable hence discrepancy can only be satanic and we all know how to deal Satan..... It only makes sense that the future of this great nation is being dictate by Taliban, the students of Islam. Of course the biggest Satan killer can be the only worthy one who is entitled to rule the the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.... I wish them and their follower the best of luck as this is what this country pray for....
miramshah(USA) Apr 29, 2013 12:19am
If you can't stand the heat, leave the kitchen.
khana Apr 29, 2013 12:28am
if what you said is official PTI line then it should come from PTI leadership, openly and without any if and but's.
Irfan Baloch Apr 29, 2013 10:52am
a short word for those who use these sentences "whoever.. whatever .."" is called "Munafiqat" hypocrisy
ahsan mirza Apr 29, 2013 10:48am
please brush up on your history...Pakistan was NOT created by Mullah's but by Cigar smoking liberals as NP said. The worst thing that has happened to Pakistan is the whole "islamization" of the was meant to be a secular state.
Qamar Apr 29, 2013 03:19am
I remember many leaders of secular parties performing haj or umrah on public money during the past five years. The head of secular party and the president donated one million dollars to a shrine in India. Neither the political parties nor the TTP have any religion. Everyone is fighting for their supermacy under one pretext or the other.
Naseer Apr 29, 2013 04:24am
Amir Ul Momineen Nawaz Sharif is the most honest and sincere person for Pakistan. He and his family are the only persons who have the right to live in Pakistan. All the other should either die or be killed.
Farooq Ali Apr 29, 2013 04:24am
All the three target parties by TTP or some one else have been in Power since last 5 years . What concrete measures they took to wipe out this menace . They had a huge interior ministry budget and a very large security force at their disposal and an experienced interior minister , then why this all was not cleaned as 5 years is a lot of time to cleanup.
ukhan Apr 29, 2013 04:36am
i think what fazalpai is trying to say is that ...these so called factions driven by their so called religious justifications are merely people with an agenda and using Islam for a means to an end, which in my opinion is worse than a kaffar. At least thats what i got out of it.
fazalpai Apr 29, 2013 07:05am
where are those people ?
Furqan Apr 29, 2013 07:52am
This election is a straight fight between the pro-Taliban and anti-Taliban forces. The former shall of course win all hands down. That shall seal the fate of Pakistan for the foreseeable future.
concerned Apr 29, 2013 08:01am
And some of the parties are thinking to negotiate with these animals....what an irony...
SleepingPaki Apr 29, 2013 08:42am
And now if the army will take over, you will start crying for democracy. BB has given her life for democracy and we will not let her blood go wasted. Elections must be held at all costs and let the people decide.