Earthquake Survivors Spurn Hardline Islamist Parties in Kashmir

Voters in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir rejected hardline Islamist parties in legislative assembly elections, even though these parties and groups played a prominent role in emergency efforts after the October 2005 earthquake in Kashmir and North West Frontier Province.

Despite dissatisfaction with the government and an array of post-quake problems—lack of employment, high property prices, slow reconstruction, and unresolved water and sanitation issues—voters backed established candidates.

A government-backed party won half the seats in the 41-member assembly, while the rest went to other political parties and independents. All 33 candidates of the religious alliance, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, lost.

The Islamists, who back militant groups fighting Indian rule in part of Kashmir, have not traditionally done well in elections in the region. Most people remain apprehensive about the Islamists’ hardline views.

Kamran Haider, “Quake-Hit Pakistani Kashmiris Shun Islamist Parties,” Washington Post, 12 July 2006.