Secular candidate in Pakistan hounded by angry mobs

World Monday 23/July/2018 18:20 PM
By: Times News Service
Secular candidate in Pakistan hounded by angry mobs

Islamabad: It began with a audience members asking Pakistani parliamentary candidate Jibran Nasir to declare his beliefs at a public forum, a request he politely refused on the grounds it is irrelevant.
Later, the mobs started showed up.
In the past week, three of Nasir's public meetings in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, have been disrupted by hardliners - shouting out and shoving his supporters.
Nasir's independent candidacy is in stark contrast to the prevailing mood of Pakistan's campaign, which has seen the rise of new ultra-right extremist parties.
Liberal and secular-minded Pakistanis say the sheer number of religious party candidates, combined with their ultra-conservative rhetoric, has already shifted the agenda in their direction.
Nasir aims to challenge the prevalent extremist discourse.
"Our campaign is bigger than just my win... What it is symbolising for the people is a change in narrative," he told Reuters.
Nasir gained nationwide prominence in 2014 after staging protests against the Red Mosque, the Islamabad centre of a militant network with links to Pakistani Taliban strongholds in the northwest and in neighbouring Afghanistan.
The mosque was the site of a military standoff in 2007, but within two years its chief cleric was freed from detention.
The mosque campaign earned Nasir a phone call and death threats from a high-ranking Taliban commander.