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Terrorists in Pakistan Parliament to strengthen Anti-India narrative

Participation of terrorists in the upcoming elections in Pakistan is an ominous development for bilateral ties, according to Tilak Devasher, former special secretary (cabinet secretariat) and Pakistan expert, because the presence of such people in parliament could force the next dispensation in Islamabad to harden its policy towards India.

Devasher told ET that although the terrorist groups backed by Pakistan Army may not be able to win a large number of seats they may acquire enough vote share to strengthen the anti-India narrative.

“Once given an entry into parliamentary politics the terrorist groups and extremist elements will give little room to mainstream parties to shape the India narrative,” he said. “Nonetheless there should not be any expectations of change of heart vis-à-vis India post polls.

Pakistan is not a normal state as it is guided by deep antagonism based on the so-called unfinished agenda of Pakistan army.”

Several terrorists, their family members and sympathisers are in the fray in the coming elections in Pakistan courtesy its army. The son and son-in-law of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed will be contesting the upcoming elections for national assembly seats from Punjab, according to people aware of the matter.

Similarly, Hafiz Talha Saeed, son of the JuD chief, will be contesting on a ticket from the little-known political party, Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek. The JuD chief’s son-in-law Hafiz Khalid Waleed is in the race from Lahore where the JuD has made substantive inroads. Saeed’s newly established Mili Muslim League (MML) candidates could contest as many as 80 national assembly seats and 185 provincial seats across Pakistan, but it is expected to focus mainly on Punjab.

Devasher — author of just published ‘Pakistan: At the Helm’ — said elections may well throw up a coalition government. “While PTI chief Imran Khan may seem to be the favourite for the post of PM, the army may choose some other leader to head the government,” he said.

In the ongoing campaign process July 13 could turn out to be a landmark date in Pakistan elections if former PM Nawaz Sharif does in fact return to Pakistan, as this would land him in jail and therefore allow him to play the victim card, according to Devasher.

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