Source: The Washington Post
Few people noticed the campaign posters pasted in many run-down alleys that featured these obscure, bearded figures and religious messages. Instead, the nation was waiting to see which of two mainstream political parties would win a crucial Sept. 17 parliamentary election in Lahore.
But when the final results were announced, the two hard-line Muslim candidates had placed third and fourth in a race with numerous other contenders, winning 11 percent of the vote. It was a stunning debut for two Islamist groups that had shunned electoral politics but built devoted public followings, inspired by figures who used violence in the name of defending their faith.
It was also a sign that such groups, long considered to be at the fringes of Pakistani society, are making unprecedented inroads into the mainstream life of an impoverished, fast-growing country of 207 million. More than 90 percent of Pakistanis are Muslim, and many have felt increasingly frustrated by a lack of opportunities and justice under multiple leaders from the wealthy elite.