Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Islamist Parties losing Appeal

Fire of Liberty
It seems that the extreme Islamic MMA party in the seemingly ungovernable North Western Frontier Province that borders Afghanistan have been denied their majority by the people in the region. This just goes to show you that the folks in Pakistan have grown tired of the Islamist parties and when given an option they will seek an alternative that offers hope not hatred. Here's what the Christian Science Monitor had to say about these unbelievable sea change in a region that the Pakistani government once feared to enter:
The unexpected defeat of the Islamists came in the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP), which neighbors Afghanistan. The province had been ruled since 2002 by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an umbrella group of six religious parties, including the vanguard radical party Jamaat-e-Islami.

The MMA had emerged as a powerful political force in the October 2002 national elections, riding popular anger at Pakistan's support for the US ouster of the Taliban across the border in Afghanistan. The alliance also used a book as its symbol on the ballot, telling voters that the book represented the Koran, and that a vote for the MMA was a vote for Islam.

Once in office, the religious alliance continued to defy Musharraf's war on terror at home and abroad. Police began waging a Talibanesque antivice drive that included bans on music and attacks on billboard advertisements depicting women.

However, heading into the August vote, differences cropped up in the MMA and the alliance subsequently broke down on the local government level. With some distance from Sept. 11 and without the benefit of the book as its ballot symbol, the religious parties lost their majority to the Awami National Party (ANP), a secular Pashtun party.

"I am more than 100 percent satisfied, says Asfandyar Wali, chief of the ANP, which emerged as the single largest party in the province according to informal results. "We are very much able to head governments in all major cities including Peshawar [the provincial capital]."
All I can say is that it seems the phoenix like rise of democracy in Afghanistan and its benefit to the people seem to be reaching their cousins in the region. My only wish is that this spread of democracy will only increase in the region and convince more people to push more Taliban like Islamic parties to the wayside. I see more blue skies ahead.

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