Tags: Pro-Taliban | Elected | Pakistan

Pro-Taliban Elected in Pakistan

Wednesday, 27 November 2002 12:00 AM

Bakht Jahan Khan of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal defeated Syed Qalab Hussain in the race for speaker of Northwest Frontier Province's assembly.

The country's three main political parties, including the pro-army faction of the Pakistan Muslim League that holds the central government in Islamabad, backed Hussain. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's opposition Pakistan People's Party also supported him.

Khan's MMA is a six-party religious alliance opposed to Pakistan's decision to back the U.S.-led war on terrorism. The group received the largest number of votes in areas bordering Afghanistan, which were directly affected by the U.S. military offensive against the former Taliban regime.

On Monday, pro-Taliban clerics, who dominate the provincial assembly of the NWFP, which borders Afghanistan, vowed to introduce strict Islamic law and to end the U.S. military presence in the province when they took office.

Khan's election as speaker also paves the way for the election of an MMA candidate as the provincial chief minister later this month.

A victory in the province does not give the MMA the power to end the U.S. presence, however. Pakistani Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was sworn in Saturday, has said he would continue President Pervez Musharraf's foreign policy.

The provincial assembly will have nominal control over the local police force, but not over the army. Under a law passed last week, the federal government will be able to override provincial orders in the interests of national security.

The alliance's electoral success was an unwelcome surprise to the government of Pakistan's military ruler, Musharraf, and to the United States, because the NWFP has been the focus of the search for al Qaida and Taliban fugitives believed to have entered the province from Afghanistan earlier year this year.

Pashtuns form the largest ethnic group in both the NWFP and Afghanistan.

The MMA is also opposed to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and has called for an end to America's use of Pakistan's airbases and to the presence of FBI agents who have taken part in police raids in the province.

"There is no need for U.S. troops and FBI agents to catch terrorists," says Liaquat Baluch, deputy leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the dominant parties in the MMA. "Our own forces are capable of doing this job."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Bakht Jahan Khan of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal defeated Syed Qalab Hussain in the race for speaker of Northwest Frontier Province's assembly. The country's three main political parties, including the pro-army faction of the Pakistan Muslim League that holds the central...
Pro-Taliban,Elected,Pakistan
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2002-00-27
Wednesday, 27 November 2002 12:00 AM
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