Violent Extremist or Political Candidate? In Pakistan Election, You Can Be Both

Source: The New York Times

By Maria Abi-HabibShah Meer Baloch and Zia ur-Rehman

 

KARACHI, Pakistan — Aurangzeb Farooqi is a leader of a political party that is banned in Pakistan for espousing sectarian violence. He faces charges of spreading religious hatred that was linked to the murders of several Shiite activists.

He is also a candidate for national political office, running with the blessing of Pakistani courts.

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Mr. Farooqi is among several candidates with ties to Islamist extremist groups who were the subject of last-ditch petitions by activists seeking to bar them from contesting elections this month. An election tribunal threw out those petitions last month, claiming there were not enough valid complaints to justify barring the candidates.

Despite publicly proclaimed campaigns against religious extremism, the ability of candidates like Mr. Farooqi to campaign suggests that far from being curbed, extremists are being encouraged.

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