WASHINGTON — As the May 11 Pakistani election draws close, the Taliban has stepped up its campaign of bombings against secular, left-leaning parties, the parties accuse each other of intimidation and many are asking, where is the military?
The Pakistani military is the country's most stable institution. Pakistan has spent more than half its existence under military rule. In fact, in its 66-year history, the government cobbled together under President Asif Ali Zardari's leadership has been the only elected one to complete a full term in office.
The upcoming election would be the first time that power is passed on via the ballot box. However, this process is under threat from religious hardliners.
"The problem is that the elections are occurring in a context of ongoing insurgency, and the Pakistani Taliban are playing favorites, killing or intimidating members of secular and left-leaning parties, while giving apparently free reign to right-leaning and Islamist parties. Unless this trend is stopped, it may have an impact on the integrity of the election results," says Ahmed Humayun, a regional analyst and fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.
In recent weeks, the Tehrik-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP a.k.a. Pakistani Taliban) has made several statements denouncing secular parties that have strong support in Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunwa province.
In a video, Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud stated, "We are not in favor of democracy. Democracy is for Jews and Christians."