Dec. 14, 2011, 4:33 p.m.
The International Crisis Group published a briefing on the Islamic parties in Pakistan. It describes the major Islamic parties, their ideological affinities and their connections with each other and the military. In particular, it outlines how the military has allowed extremist, sectarian rhetoric from fundamentalists parties to thrive. The report concludes with the recommendation that the government secure the rights promised in the 1973 constitution by cracking down on the extremist factions of the country's Islamic parties.
The ability of Pakistan’s radical Islamic parties to mount limited but potentially violent opposition to the government has made democratic reform, and by extension the reduction of religious extremism and development of a more peaceful and stable society, more challenging. This is a reflection of those parties’ well-organised activist base, which is committed to a narrow partisan agenda and willing to defend it through violence. While their electoral support remains limited, earlier Islamisation programs have given them a strong legal and political apparatus that enables them to influence policy far beyond their numerical strength. An analysis of party agendas and organisation, as well as other sources of influence in judicial, political and civil society institutions, is therefore vital to assessing how Pakistan’s main religious parties apply pressure on government, as well as the ability and willingness of the mainstream parties that are moderate on religious issues to resist that pressure.