Another contestant is Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, which bears the legacy of Mumtaz Qadri, a security guard of the former Punjab governor Salman Taseer. The governor was killed in 2011 by Qadri for allegedly demanding changes to the draconian blasphemy law. Qadri, who was hanged in 2016, has become a symbol of unity for those who loved his resolute stand in support of the controversial law.
Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ) is yet another aspirant for the polls. ASWJ is the political façade of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan — a radical group responsible for the genocide of the country’s minority Shiite Muslims. Both SSP and ASWJ are on the terror watchlist. ASWJ planned to contest elections through the Pakistan Rah-i-Haq Party.
Another banned group Tehreek-i-Jafria Pakistan (TJP) — a Shiite Muslim sectarian religious organization registered with the ECP as Islami Tehreek Pakistan — will fight for provincial and national assembly seats.
“Our mainstreaming process is different from what other countries follow throughout the world for mainstreaming of radical outfits. They follow a set procedure and comply with the modules for proper identification and screening of terrorists,” Afrasiab Khattak, a former Awami National Party (ANP) senator, told Asia Times.
“Assessing the nature of crimes against the state and humanity and certification through a de-radicalization program is a prerequisite to ensure that violence is renounced, decommissioning done and condition met for the mainstreaming to start,” said Khattak, who is also an analyst, human rights activist and politician.