Despite the alleged backing from military, hardline religious parties and groupings failed to make their presence felt in the July 25 general election in Pakistan.
Both emerging religious entities, the Khadim Rizvi-led Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and Kashmir-Jihad fame Hafiz Saeed's political front Milli Muslim League (MML), could neither field candidates to all 14 National and 30 Punjab Assembly seats in the provincial metropolis.
Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA), the five-party religious alliance that ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan during 2002-07, also could not cover all the constituencies.
MMA managed to mobilize voters from certain pockets in NA-135 (Lahore-XIII), NA-125 (Lahore-III) and NA-132 (Lahore-X) but could not make any visible dent in the right vote of the PML-N.
Most of the TLP and MML presence was seen in the form of banners and flexes, as their polling camps and polling agents were seldom found in and around the polling stations.
The MML, which could field only four candidates for 14 NA seats from Lahore, reflected even poor picture as the few camps it had set up were found empty throughout the day. It seemed voters mostly neglected the welfare work claims by the charity networks affiliated with it.
Religious parties - some new, others established – were expected to field more than 1,500 candidates for national and provincial assemblies, compared with a few hundred in 2013.
The proliferation of religious parties appears to be a fulfilment of a proposal made by Pakistan's military to “mainstream” armed Islamists and other extremists into politics, though the parties and the army deny any links.