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Hardline cleric with links to banned group wins by-poll in Pak

Press Trust of India  |  Lahore 

In a stunning development, a hardline cleric having links with banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), won by-for a Assembly seat, defeating over two dozen candidates including those fielded by Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the People's Party (PPP).

Maulana Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi, son of Sunni militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba's slain founder Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, won the Assembly's PP-78 by-yesterday in Jhang district of the province.

ASWJ chief Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi campaigned door-to-door for independent candidate Jhangvi, who secured 48,562 votes defeating his closest rival Azad Nasir Ansari of the ruling PML-N with more than 12,000 votes.

The was held in high security as police, rangers and army personnel were deployed at all polling stations. The overall voter turnout reported to be around 30 per cent.

ASWJ was formed after the slapped a ban on Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).

The SSP,spearheaded the anti-Shia drive in late 1980s and led to sectarian violence in the country that is still going on. The elder Jhangvi was killed in sectarian violence.

Jhangvi's victory has shown that ASWJ has strong voter-base in Jhang, some 200 km from Lahore.

The seat was vacated by PML-N Rashida Yaqoob, who was disqualified by Commission for concealing her assets.

By allowing a known extremist to run for and use the platform of banned outfit raises several questions about Pakistan's pledge to fight extremism and militancy.

Commenting on the outcome of the by-election, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on twitter: "Rest in pieces National action plan" with hashtag #GoNisarGo.

Earlier, the PML-N had alliance with ASWJ.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah is accused of harbouring the ASWJ activists.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, December 02 2016. 15:42 IST