The hate vote
Secondly, if some political parties are striking electoral deals with the banned organisations, does this mean that the bigoted ideologies that these outfits propagate actually have voter support from certain sections of the society?
This question becomes all the more important to ponder, considering the fact that religious parties have almost always fared badly in elections in Pakistan.
When parties like the centre-right PML-N enter into electoral deals with banned militant outfits, are they not openly acknowledging the fact that these organisations have enough number of votes to cut deals with?
Yes, equally disturbing is the fact that some members of the centre-left PPP and recently, the overtly secular MQM, too were embarrassed by the liberal sections of the media for trying to cultivate electoral links with banned outfits, but their move in this respect pales in comparison with what the PML-N’s provincial regime in the Punjab was up to in this respect.
If the outgoing PPP-led coalition government was all at sea in controlling rapid spats of extremist violence in the country, the PML-N regime in Punjab was equally bamboozled by rising cases of mob vio- lence against Christians and perceived ‘blasphemers’ in the province.
However, whereas the PPP regime at the centre was clearly incompetent to manage the extremist menace, was not the PML-N regime in Punjab actually allowing banned militant outfits and their front organisations to create havoc in the lives of Pakistani Christians, Ahmadis, and as well as those Muslims whom these outfits accuse of being heretical and apostate?
The final decision to take action against outfits responsible for encouraging and organising violence against the minorities and Shias in the Punjab lay with the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Not the police alone. The CM hardly moved during the many episodes of this magnitude.
That’s why PML-N critics convincingly claim that this was mainly due to the Punjab regime’s ‘understanding’ with banned outfits. An understanding that saw the Punjab regime looking the other way as long as the banned outfits carried out their violent activities in other provinces and only touched non-Muslim sections of the population in the Punjab.
So often we have heard apologists maintain that Pakistan is mostly a country of moderate Muslims. If so, then what are