News / Asia

Pakistan's Religious Parties Vie for Votes in National Elections

Pakistan's Religious Parties Vie for Votes in National Electionsi
X
May 03, 2013 10:35 AM
Pakistan is a deeply conservative and traditional society, and religious political parties easily rally thousands in support of their causes. But so far these groups have not been able to translate their street following into solid political power. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on their prospects in the upcoming May 11 national elections.
Sharon Behn
Pakistan is a deeply conservative and traditional society, and religious political parties easily rally thousands in support of their causes. But so far these groups have not been able to translate their street following into solid political power. 
           
Jamaat-e-Islami is one of several conservative religious parties in Pakistan. The May 11 ballot will be the first time it vies for votes on its own.
 
Party official Khurshid Ahmad said Jamaat-e-Islami appeals to Muslims who want clear, ethical governance and to get away from the U.S.-led war against terrorism.
 
"Islam deals with the worldly issues as much as it deals with the spiritual issues. So there is no dichotomy between private morality and public morality and the Islamic vision is that one should accept God in totality," he said.
 
In a country rife with corruption and a faltering economy, the message has appeal.
 
Islamic law student Mudassar Abbasi said he supports anyone who would implement the Islamic tenets in Pakistan's constitution -- but he does not think religious parties will fare well in the vote. 

"If the religious party [were to come] in power in coming election, the result will be that Pakistan will be more stable and less corruption," Abbasi noted. "And the basic rights to every citizen will take easily."
 
Religious parties are hoping to improve on the eight seats they held in the last 342- seat national assembly.
 
But Moeed Yusuf, South Asia Advisor with the United States Institute of Peace said the prospect of enacting Sharia law -- conservative Islamic law as laid out in the Quran -- lacks broad appeal.

"Political Islam or politicization of religion, has an emotive appeal in Pakistan, it doesn't have a political appeal, this is a very interesting distinction. You can bring the people on the street - if you are the religious party you can have a million people marching on the street," he stated. "When it comes to going to people and saying vote for me because I am the best governor, you won't find many takers for it."
 
Many shopkeepers in this small village on the outskirts of Islamabad are voting for the former ruling Pakistan People's Party. Others here are supporting the new opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI.
 
Shahid Riaz is a PTI supporter who said religious parties are too narrow in their approach.

"I think with my mind, they cannot change the economy, and they think only about the religious matters, I think, and we want democracy and better economy in Pakistan," added Riaz.
 
Yet politician Imran Khan appears to have found a religious angle to his platform with broad support.
 
His PTI party is running strong second in the polls. The pillars of Khan's campaign: an Islamic welfare state that is no longer part of the war on terror.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid