Pakistan is holding its parliamentary elections on Saturday May 11, after the first successful civilian transition in country’s history. AFP PHOTO/Aamir QURESHI
Pakistan is holding its parliamentary elections on Saturday May 11, after the first successful civilian transition in country’s history. However, continued violence, particularly the Taliban attacks have been a daily routine since last week. The Tehreek-Taliban-Pakistan had warned three secular parties—the former ruling coalition Pakistani Peoples’ Party, Mutahida Qawmi Movement and Awami National Party—of attacks, and they have proved it with consecutive bombings of their offices forcing them to limit election campaign through TV advertisements. Leaders of all three parties have avoided public rallies.
About 25 people were killed and 45 wounded when a bomb exploded at a rally of the Jamiat Ulema Islam-F on Monday. The usually pro-Taliban religious party has not been direct target of the Taliban attacks. However, the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack. Similarly, another suicide attack targeted a JUI-F rally on Tuesday in the Hangu district, targeting Mufti Sayed Janan, who was injured. Ten people were killed and at least 22 others injured.
In another bombing on Tuesday in Lower Dir District, a PPP candidate Haji Zameen Khan was targeted, in which his brother was killed. According to Pakistani media reports, leaflets distributed by the Pakistani Taliban in Peshawar have warned school teachers not to perform their duties on polling day.
The attacks are not only limited to the volatile areas of Federally Administered Tribal Areas. There have been bomb attacks near the headquarters of MQM in Karachi city. An ANP candidate was killed in the city, while another injured last week. Despite continued requests from some political parties, the Army has avoided troops’ deployments to ensure security for polling. On the other hand, right wing parties like the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Jamaat Islami and Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf seem to have free ground for election campaigning.
Given the long history of military interventions and meddling in electoral affairs, it is highly important that the current civilian transition completes with a free, fair and transparent elections smoothly. The daily attacks could affect the polling day turn out. The Taliban would be successful if people are intimidated to come out for polls. However, the results of such an election when all political parties do not have a level field of campaigning would be unfair. It is unbelievable that the TTP have now spread as a cancer so deep in Pakistan that it has the capability to destabilize elections in Pakistan. But unfortunately the silence of the right wing parties on TTP attacks against the seculars will mean they will continue to grow stronger.