PAKISTAN: The military intends to back Al-Qaida candidates for the next parliament 

There have been some developments during the past two weeks that reveal that in the coming elections elements of the Taliban and Al-Qaida had been offered seats in the parliament. Before these developments the security agencies with the help of right wing parties have also allowed 53 sectarian candidates to contest the elections without passing through the sword of the articles 62 and 63 of the constitution which debar any candidate known to be involved in cases of sectarian violence, hate campaigns or having been charged with murder and killings through sectarian violence.

Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, center, presides the Corps Commander Conference at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. ( Image courtesy: Inter Services Public Relations Department, Pakistan)

The military officials were remained busy in the Bajur agency, Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), close to Afghan border, to make a deal with the agents of Al-Qaida for the coming elections. During the time of filing the nomination papers the Military Commander of the Bajur agency, Brigadier Ghulam Haider, held a meeting with the local leadership of Jamat-e-Islami (JI) who, in the past had direct links with the militants of Al-Qaida and master minds of 9/11 and had provided shelter to them. There are two national assembly seats from the Bajur agency and these two seats were assured to JI and in return the JI and other jihadist organization will provide (1) logistic support to those who want to join Jihad in Afghanistan from Pakistani side and extend ‘melmastia’, the traditional tribal hospitality, to Mujahideen coming back from Afghanistan; (2) JI will not oppose any operation in Bajaur but rather support any military operation in Bajure in future; (3) JI will not oppose but rather help in constructing the road that connects Afghanistan with Pakistan (The road connects Chakdara via Munda-Bajaur-Ghakhi Pass-Kunar and Chakdara-Munda-Samar Bagh-Shahi-bin-Shahi-Asmaar-Kunar) and (4)the arrangement will remain intact between the two parties until a favourable government in Afghanistan is installed.

The reasons for such developments are described as the USA and Allied Forces are leaving Afghanistan next year so the military has geared up its contacts with those political-cum-religious parties who could help in furthering the interests of Pakistan and the military to establish their major share as a stake holder.

The interesting thing is that when the US and Allied forces entered Afghanistan, the religious parties in Pakistan were brought into the power in 2002 elections by the then military dictator, General Musharraf. Now, when these forces are leaving Afghanistan, there are hectic efforts to bring fundamentalists again into the power particularly in the province of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP).

It worth mentioning here that the May 11 elections are the first ever party-based elections in FATA history after the political parties order was extended to the tribal belt as part of reforms to the Frontiers Crimes Regulations (FCR) in 2011.

Mr. Haroon Rasheed and Sardar Khan of JI are contesting elections from the constituency of National Assembly 43 and 44 respectively. Haroon Rasheed was also elected in 2002 on the JI ticket when military needed religious parties to help military government. He was providing shelter to the Al-Qaida militants at his house who were wanted at international level. In 2009, during the military operation, 10 Al-Qaida militants from the Arab countries were recovered who were hiding there since many years. His brother and nephew were arrested but brother was released and nephew is still behind the bar to safe him. His house has also been destroyed with many other houses in the Loi Sim area of Bajur. All destroyed houses were not allowed to be reconstructed but Haroon Rasheed’s house has been renovated as a special case.

The JI and its leaders were involved in providing shelter to Al-Qaida militants. The mastermind of 9/11 incident, Mr. Khalid Shiekh Mohammad was arrested from the house of Ahmed Abdul Qadoos, a leader of JI from Rawalpindi, Punjab, in March 2003 but with the help of Musharraf government Qadoos was released and no action has been taken against him. The same was with former provincial mister of KP, Mr. Siraj ul Haq, the president of JI from the province. He handed over one Al-Qaida man to his friend’s house in Durgai, the Malakand Agency. After some years the Al-Qaida militant was arrested by the military but no action has been taken against Haq and his friend, it was in the era of Musharraf government when Haq was the senior minister of the province.

Last January in Karachi, two Al-Qaeda operatives were arrested after a shoot-out in the house of Sabiha Shahid, another leader of the Jamaat’s women’s wing. Dr. Khawaja Javed and his brother, who are facing trial on charges of harbouring senior Al-Qaeda operatives and their families, in their sprawling residential compound outside Lahore, are closely related to a senior Jamaat leader.

According to the newsline report of 2003, Similarly, in Karachi, Jamaat (JI) activists were involved in the shoot-out which helped a third Arab to escape. “We have strong evidence of the Jamaat’s involvement with Al-Qaeda,” said a senior government official.

The Jamaat boasts the most active women’s wing of any political party. They have been in the forefront of the protests against the arrest of Al-Qaeda leaders. Many political leaders accuse the Jamaat of using its women members as human shields. Security officials maintain that Jamaat activists, who actively participated in the Afghan war against Soviet occupation, developed close contacts with the Arab fighters and the links continued after the war was over. “Their association with the Al-Qaeda is not surprising,” said a senior official. Faisal Saleh Hayat, the federal interior minister, said it was a matter of great concern to the government that top Al-Qaeda operatives were found to be harboured by the Jamaat. “How can they claim that Al-Qaeda fugitives are their guests?” he asked. In a press briefing on March 10, an ISI official maintained that individuals from the Jamaat were associated with the Al-Qaeda.

This time the military has again contacted the JI and other religious groups to induct religious candidates in the parliament so that the liberal and secular political parties should not come in majority and can not change the Islamic colour of the country. In the recent days the chief of the Army staff, General Kiyani has come out with the announcement that the Islamic Ideology is the basis of the creation of Pakistan and it can not be separated from the country. This announcement has been termed by media circles as the ‘pre-poll rigging’.

As the general elections are coming closer the Pakistan military is making arrangements for the induction of Al Qaida and sectarian elements for the next parliament which will be formed after the May 11 elections. A deal is under way with many Jihadi groups and they were assured that the military will make their way in to the parliament but in return they have to extend their help in furthering its interests in Afghanistan by providing safety and security to the Jihadi elements. This is the reason that JI have been taken as the best via media for the militant organisations and in return JI will be given good numbers of the seats in the parliament.

It is very much evident that three political parties, the PPP, MQM and ANP and other political parties from Balochistan province, who are liberal and secular have been threatened by the Taliban that they would not be allowed to have freedom of election campaign. Their public meetings are continuously under the bomb attacks and the Taliban claim the responsibility. Those political parties who are supposing to the ‘friends of Taliban’ have the full freedom for the election campaign. The security forces are also not providing any security to stop the attacks of the liberal parties. A great divide has been made by the military, the caretaker government and election commission between the centre right and liberal political parties and all arrangement have made that those political parties must win who have the inclination towards Al-Qaida and Taliban.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) urges the caretaker government to stop the military intervention in the general elections of May 11 for assuring the political and religious parties who are close to the Al-Qaida and Taliban.

The AHRC also calls upon the international community to observe the general elections and use all possible diplomatic channels to stop the rigging in the coming election and bringing back the Al-Qaida and Taliban elements again in the country.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-084-2013
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Corruption, Extrajudicial killings, Impunity, Military, Minorities, Rule of law, Terrorism & human rights,