Pakistan Taliban's Campaign of Violence During Election Season Extends to Islamist Party

Pakistan will hold its first ever election during a civilian transition of power this weekend


election time in pakistan

This Saturday, Pakistan will hold an election as part of a democratic transition of government, a first for the country. But it hasn't been peaceful, with the Pakistani Taliban waging a campaign of violence targeting several of Pakistan's secularist parties that's killed more than a hundred candidates and party activists, according to France 24. The Taliban have not limited themselves to attacks on secular parties either. A suicide attack on a rally held by the Islamist party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam killed 25 in a town near the border with Afghanistan. The violence has led some parties to rely much more heavily on campaigning and organizing online.

During the last election in Pakistan, in 2007, leading candidate Benazir Bhutto, who had just returned from a self-imposed exile, was assassinated. Her husband was elected president of Pakistan a few months later. While Al-Qaeda initially claimed responsibility for the assassination, a UN probe eventually suggested elements of the Pakistani military may have been involved. When the former strongman  General Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan earlier this year to participate in the election, he was instead charged in connection with the Bhutto assassination. A prosecutor investigating the assassination was shot to death last week.

Meanwhile the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan channeled fellow former athlete Gerald Ford, sustaining a non-terrorist related injury when he fell off a lift at en election rally. Khan and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, another frontrunner, have both expressed reservations and even opposition to the US-led war on terror in the region.  Polling by Pew, meanwhile, shows 91 percent of Pakistanis dissatisfied with the direction the country is going and attitudes toward the United States souring even further since Barack Obama succeeded George Bush. Only 11 percent said they had a positive view of the U.S., and a majority said American aid to the country (more than 7 billion dollars since 2009) had either no or a negative impact. 79 percent back the Pakistani military, a prime recipient of American taxpayers' money.