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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs