Karachi, Aug 1: Twelve religious parties, including Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-backed Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek, which contested the general elections in Pakistan saw a decline in their vote share when compared with the 2013 polls, securing just over 9 per cent of the total votes polled across the country.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the highest number of votes for religious parties was cast in Punjab (2,704,856 votes) but that contributed to only 7.98 per cent of the province's overall vote bank — the lowest among all other provinces in Pakistan, The Dawn reported.
The far-right groups managed to secure only 5,203,285 (9.58 per cent) of the total 54,319,922 votes polled across the country as most of them saw a decline in their vote bank when compared to the 2013 general election, the preliminary results showed. As compared with Punjab, their performance was better in Sindh where the religious parties received 1,116,644 votes (10.57 per cent of the total votes polled), it said. Hafiz Saeed-backed Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT) had fielded 265 candidates — including 13 women — countrywide. Apart from Hafiz Waleed, the other prominent AAT candidate was Saeed's son Talha Saeed who was in the run for a National Assembly seat from Sargodha. The party did not win any seat. However, religiously-motivated groups dominated the electoral space in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where nine parties collectively secured 18.84 per cent of the votes polled, followed by Balochistan 16.78 per cent, The Dawn reported.
The recently revived Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) — an alliance of various religious parties — managed to secure 12 seats with 2.5 million votes for the National Assembly, it said. Earlier in 2002, the MMA had emerged as the country's third largest party with 3.1 million votes and 59 of its candidates had won.
Similarly, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Nazryati-Pakistan just received 34,170 votes as compared with 1,030,98 votes in 2013. Another religious party that did not leave an impact on the electoral battleground was Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (Noorani) that only got 22,918 votes in contrast to 67,966 votes in 2013, according to the ECP. The Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen — which received 41,520 votes last time — got only 19,597 votes this time.
The Sunni Ittehad Council also witnessed a significant drop in its popularity as it received 5,939 votes only as compared to 37,732 votes in 2013. On an unexpected front, the newly formed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) — led by clerics of the Barelvi sect — emerged as the top fifth party which received 2,234,138 votes for the National Assembly, outranking major parties like the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Awami National Party among others.
Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged as the single largest party in the general elections held on July 25, winning 116 National Assembly seats out of the contested 270 parliamentary constituencies.