Islamic stronghold in Pakistan goes secular

Islamic stronghold in Pakistan goes secular
Residents in the northwest signaled their frustration with Islamic parties' poor governance.
By Mark Sappenfield | The Christian Science Monitor, February 21, 2008

Hajji Ali Akbar wants his country to be governed by Islamic law.

Yet in Monday's elections in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), he and many others voted for a party that rejects religion in politics. It has led many to herald these elections as a victory for secular democracy and as a sign of the failure of Islamic parties' governance.

The religious parties that held 46 of the 96 provincial parliamentary seats won only nine this time. Moreover, they have been replaced by the secular Awami National Party (ANP).

It is an important development in the province nearest Pakistan's tribal areas, known to host Al Qaeda and the Taliban and the new focus of US antiterror policy. The ANP is expected to marshal all the province's resources – police, politics, and the law – against extremism, whereas the mullahs had refused even to condemn suicide attacks.

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Also See: Asfandyar urges foreign aid to keep extremists on run - DT - Feb 22, 2008

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