At a recent event at The Heritage Foundation, Haroon K. Ullah discussed the influence of Islamist political parties in Pakistan, the subject of his new book, Vying for Allah’s Vote: Understanding Islamic Parties, Political Violence, and Extremism in Pakistan.
Ullah’s research found that, contrary to popular belief, attacks in Pakistan are not random but rather part of a calculated strategy for Islamist parties to bribe voters for their security. He explained that Islamist parties rely on violent attacks in a way that makes security a form of patronage. The Islamists seek to convey to voters that if they support the Islamist parties, they will receive protection from further attacks.
Ullah’s second major point was that, while democratization may encourage the Islamist parties to become more pragmatic in their politics, it has not led to any tangible moderation of their policies and agenda.
Thirdly, he noted that people who join the Islamist parties in Pakistan generally come from the middle class, not the lowest classes of society, as largely assumed.