KARACHI, Pakistan, May 11 (UPI Next) -- A threatening pamphlet issued by religious extremists in southeastern Pakistan warning locals to refrain from electing women or "infidels" -- especially Hindus -- has increased fears of violence in the days leading up to Saturday's elections.
The pamphlet, issued by extremists in the Thar Desert in Sindh province, asked women voters not to vote. A few days ago, the Islamist party Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had distributed similar fliers in Karachi, written in Urdu, instructing people to stay away from polls.
The Thar Desert straddles the border with India and is under a spotlight because of coal reserves, which China is helping Pakistan to mine.
The pamphlet, circulated by the local Madrassa Darul Quran Wal Hadees seminary, asked Muslims to remember that Pakistan was established as a Muslim state.
"We have handed over Pakistan to infidels and women; it is in Islam that any country ruled by women will reach the brink of collapse and destruction," it says. It adds that as Muslims "we must not allow infidels, who are enemies of Islam and Prophet" to rule.
"Do not vote for non-Muslims," it reads.
The distribution of these pamphlets has spurred fear and bewilderment, frightening local Hindus into leaving the area for the time being.
Kishan Kolhi, a resident of Thar Desert, moved his family to another village to avoid bloodshed.
"We are poor Hindus," he said, who cannot confront "powerful Muslims."
Such pamphlets "are really frightening," he told UPI Next by phone.
Gianchand Meghwar, a Hindu running as a Pakistan Peoples Party parliamentary candidate said his opponent, Arbab Ghulam Rahim, was responsible for the pamphlets. Rahim denied involvement with the leaflets, but said Muslims have right to express their ideas.
Muhammad Ramzan Lund, the seminary president who signed and issued the pamphlet, said he did so to protect Islam.
Satram Das, a local Hindu trader, said local Hindus are surprised at the pamphlet, having lived in the area for centuries without witnessing such material.
He told UPI Next "this is first time we witnessed this," adding that "it is very upsetting and it has frightened everyone in this desert area."