ISLAMABAD - Religious parties in Pakistan have fielded more than 460 candidates on the National Assembly seats for the July 25 general elections, breaking all previous records, a media report said on Sunday.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued the final list of candidates, according to which, 3,459 candidates will contest on 272 general seats of the National Assembly.
Although Jamaat-e-Islami had come up with a long list of candidates in 1970 against the then nominees of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Awami League in East (Bangladesh) and West Pakistan, and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) had also fielded candidates across the country in 2002, the number stands the highest this time, The Nation reported.
Over 460 aspirants have been fielded separately by MMA, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed-led JuD's political wing Milli Muslim League-backed Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek and other small entities, the paper said.
These candidates might play a decisive role in the victory and defeat of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and PPP candidates on a number of seats.
The results would show total religious vote bank in Pakistan besides clearly narrating the number of well wishers of each party, defining its political weight and putting it at a bargaining position with mainstream political parties in future elections, the paper said.
The MMA, an alliance of five parties -- Jamiat Ulema-e Islam-F (JUI-F), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), Islami Tehreek and Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith -- representing all schools of thought (Barelvi, Deobani, Shia and Ahle Hadith), has come up with a list of some 192 plus candidates on NA seats, mainly focusing on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan, the paper said.
The MMA has not introduced any candidate on 65 seats of Punjab's total 141 and seven of total 61 of Sindh for different reasons.
"We will not only form government in KP but also emerge powerful parties in Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab. People will elect clean leadership on July 25," said Amirul Azeem, JI's central leader and MMA candidate in Lahore.
The Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, a political wing of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, came up with a list of 178 candidates across the country.
Led by firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the party gained popularity on the issue of Khatm-e-Nabuwat and showed surprising results in the by-polls held in Punjab and KP a few months before the end of the PML-N government's tenure.
The TLP, representing Barelvi school of thought, mainly focused on Punjab, but fielded 16 candidates in KP, 32 in Sindh and six in Balochistan, the paper said.
TLP leader Pir Ijaz Ashrafi said the people across the country would vote for those who stood firm to protect the finality of prophethood (Khatm-e-Nabuwat).
An amendment had changed the wordings of a clause relating to a candidate's belief in the finality of the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad, which is submitted at the time of election by candidates, turning it into a declaration form instead of an affidavit, which puts a candidate under oath.
The then law minister Zahid Hamid resigned after violent clashes broke out between the TLP supporters and security forces which had left several people dead and hundreds injured in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Hafiz Saeed's Milli Muslim League (MML) mainly focused on Punjab, although it did not field candidates in important districts of central and southern Punjab.
As MML has failed to get registered as a political party with the Election Commission of Pakistan, its candidates are contesting on the platform of Allah-u-Akbar Tahreek (AAT).
Saeed 's son, son-in-law and 13 women are among 265 JuD candidates contesting on AAT platform in general elections on national and provincial assemblies seats across Pakistan.
Saeed, who also carries a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for his role in terror activities, is not contesting the election.
MML Spokesperson Nadeem Awam said his party was promoting the Pakistan Ideology and believed in pious politics. He claimed the MML backed candidates will give surprise at many seats.
Maulana Samiul Haq's Jamiat Ulema-i-Islami, Sahibzada Hamid Raza's Sunni Tehreek, Shia group Majlise Wahdatul Muslimeen besides some other small religious entities also fielded more than a dozen candidates in different areas of the country.