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In Pakistan's elections, animals were tortured for the sake of political stunts

A dog was wrapped up in the banner of a political party and shot. Screenshot of a video uploaded on Facebook by the page Innocent Pets Shelter Welfare Society.

Activists in Pakistan tortured animals during and after the 25 July 2018 general elections in efforts to make political stunts, images shared the online show.

People were seen painting, beating and even killing animals that have been dressed to represent political opponents in a campaign that had already been marred by violence. Separate bomb attacks targeting political rallies claimed the lives of more than 150 people leading up the vote on July 25.

Former cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is due to become Pakistan's next prime minister after his party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (“Pakistan Movement for Justice”, known as PTI) secured a majority of seats on the polls, defeating the former rulers of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

In a video [Warning: graphic content] that went viral on July 27, a dog wrapped with PTI flag is seen being shot three times by a man carrying the flag of the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), while surrounded by what seems to be other supporters of the losing candidate.

Following the reactions on social media, the police of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province arrested two suspects in the city of Bannu, where the video was recorded, and later released a confession by the two men.

The Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act enacted in 1890 was amended earlier this year to include higher fines and up to three months prison time. This was the first time the updated punishments were applied.

The losing contender, whose photo is displayed on the party flag carried by the shooters, has since released a video (in Pashto, a language spoken by 15 percent of Pakistan's population) condemning the act and stating he has no connection with the men in the video.

He has also entertained the possibility of the video having being staged by his opponents to discredit him and demanded an investigation.

On another photo that also made the rounds on Twitter, a man is seen holding a crow by its feet as a crowd celebrates the local victory of the PPP:

In Karachi, people wrote a rival candidate's name on a donkey and beat up the animal. Following heated social media reactions, the Foundation for Animal Rescue team took the donkey to their shelter, where he was named ‘Hero’.

The donkey, unfortunately, didn't survive the beating.

Many people have expressed anger on social media overall the animal cruelty. Lawyer Yasser Latif Hamdani tweeted:

In the country's previous election, in 2013, a white tiger that was frequently paraded at the rallies of Mariam Nawaz — the daughter of Nawaz Sharif, the PML-N leader — died by heat exhaustion.

In this year's poll, a candidate of the PML-N has also paraded a lion in his constituency, also drawing criticism.

In an interview with Global Voices, Naeem Abbas, Advocacy Manager for the Brookes Pakistan, pondered on the reasons why abusers are not punished:

Animals have always been abused but this is the first time police have taken action in an animal abuse case. Also, we have a culture in which if someone is caught they get away by paying a bribe.

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