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>> This man has a $10 million bounty on his head from the US government, but he is also campaigning in this week's Pakistan election. This is Pakistani cleric Hafiz Saeed, and he's accused by the US and India of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, that killed 166 people. Ten years later, he's hitting the campaign trail hard, in support of some 200 candidates who he backs in this Wednesday's poll.
The main race in Pakistan's vote is between the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and cricket legend Imran Khan. With Sharif in prison after a corruption scandal, Khan is widely seen as the favorite. But a new alarming set of groups are also contesting the poll, a bumper crop of ultra Islamists, like Saeed.
It's raising concern that the politics of the nuclear armed Muslim nation may swing in a much more conservative direction. There's more than 1,500 candidates for religious parties this year, that's compared to just a few hundred in 2013. And while Pakistan's election commission officially rejected an attempt by Saeed's charity to register a party, candidates associated with that group simply registered under an existing group, and used Saeed's image on their posters.
Many of the conservative groups like Saeed's, portray mainstream candidates like Khan as leading Pakistan away from the country's religious values. At a rally this month in Lahore Saeed told a crowd of supporters quote, the politics of the American servants is coming to an end. One party who's fielding over 500 candidates has even campaigned under a banner of quote death to blasphemers.
Analysts say even with the increase in candidates this year, new wave religious parties are unlikely to win more than a dozen seats in the country's parliament. But the pressure they're putting on more moderated candidates, may change Pakistan's politics for a long time to come.