PTI requests ST for Votes : Parties straying from principle stands, analysts say


KARACHI: Having resisted the inclusion of several groups and leaders on account of their militant credentials Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s quest to win the NA-246-Azizabad by-poll compelled it to seek electoral support of a group which had been placed under ‘watch list’ for its activities, The Frontier Post has reliably learnt.

On Monday the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) contender for NA-246 by-poll – Imran Ismail – visited Sunni Tehreek (ST) leaders in order to get the support of ST, which the later happily announced.

Sunni Tehreek – dominantly a religious group of Urdu speaking people – came into existence due to operation against MQM in 90s and since then is continuously alleged of violence, target killing and extortion.

ST is the only organization, which was placed by interior minister, government of Pakistan under watch list for terrorist activities.

A report by Sindh Government, a copy of which is available to The Frontier Post, shows that Sunni Tehreek was placed under observation through Notification number 7/26/2001 poll-1 (3) issued on January 17, 2007 by the interior ministry. Since then the group is constantly under the watch of law enforcers and intelligence agencies, another report by the provincial police force reveals.

The mentioned report also includes the list of 59 banned organizations and three others, including Jamaat-Ud-Dawa (JuD), which is enlisted under UNSCR-1267. Moreover, recently a report sent to police by intelligence agencies has listed 48 extortionists, in which 19 belongs to Sunni Tehreek, earning it the top slot in list of extortionist groups and political parties.

Various other reports, including that of Rangers’, which was submitted in apex court during Karachi law and order implementation case, have also claimed that the organization was involved in the acts of target killing and extortion.

To political observers it is usual for political parties to seek electoral support of other parties; however, what astonishes them is the track record of PTI which had always shown zero tolerance to such elements.

“Not only PTI had been raising voice against such groups but also it has always resisted including those aspirating to Join PTI due to their militant past or any link with militancy or target killing”, a reporter covering the PTI’s activities said.

“This shouldn’t have happened as it’s against the PTI’s principle stand” said Mazhar Abbas, a senior political analyst, adding all political parties are somewhat compromising over the principles for winning elections.

Political observers cite the example of Habib Jan Baloch – a London based leader of the ‘Friends of Lyari’, the international face of defunct Peoples’ Amn Committee. When he was going to join PTI along friends from the restive Lyari neighborhood PTI’s leadership barred him at the eleventh hours, said a local leader of PTI while demanding anonymity.

Jan was all set to announce his joining along several other leaders of PAC in the PTI grand political rally on September 21, 2014 but the day passed without any such development. While talking to The Frontier Post a day earlier of the Jalsa, Jan had not only confirmed that he was going to join PTI, he also claimed that the Karachi sit-ins of PTI had huge participations by people of Lyari.

However, to analysts, the PTI is not the only group which adopts means contrary to its principle stand in order to ensure election victory. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Monday grabbed the support of ten Shia sectarian organizations to ensure that its candidate Kanwar Naveed turns victorious.

A day earlier PTI had secured the support of major Shia group, Majlis-e-Wihdatul Muslimeen. Though JI has not directly requested for a sizeable vote bank of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) in the constituency it also hope to get their vote due to the Shia support for other two major contenders.

When asked as what made him to seek the support of a group alleged of target killing and extortion, Imran Ismail told this scribe “I had gone there to seek the electoral support of ‘Sunni Muslims’ and not any militant support of Sunni Tehreek”.

Originally Published in The Frontier Post


Author: Naimat

Karachi based journalist, writing on national and international issues.

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