Pakistan’s Islamic Radicals: Defeated in the Elections

Sahabzada Abdus-Samad Khan at the World Security Network:

Samadkhan_bioMost media and Western politicians have missed the most important message of the last elections in Pakistan: the radical Islamist MMA party lost dramatically and even in its strongholds in the North-Western Frontier Province (NWFP), with its capital Peshawar, garnered much fewer votes than in 2002.

This is congruent with the recent sensational results of the opinion poll by the famous U.S.-based Gallup institute (“Who Speaks For Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think”), which surveyed 50,000 Muslims in 35 Islamic countries. According to the study, 93 percent of the Muslims hold moderate views and only a tiny minority of 7 percent are politically radical. Not only the moderate Muslims but even the radicals admire democracy, human rights and technology in the West. But the U.S. has lost its credibility and trust in the Muslim world, with a good 67 percent of moderate Muslims fearing America as an aggressive power which wants to dominate the world. The radicals are not poorer, less educated and do not pray more than the moderates- they are radical for political reasons, mainly a hatred toward the U.S. as a state and world power and a perception of too little respect of the West vis-a-vis Islam.

Back to the NWFP and the tribal areas FATA in Pakistan: the very significant development of the February 18, 2007 elections in Pakistan was the resounding defeat suffered by Islamist parties. In the 2002 election, a six-party coalition known as the Muttahida-Majles-e-Amal (MMA) won over 60 seats in the 342 member Parliament. It was feared that these pro-Taliban clerics would increase their share of power with each successive election. The results of the recent elections demonstrated otherwise; namely that the ascendancy of the MMA proved to be a “political hiccup” rather than the basis for a mass Islamist movement.

More here.