A revisit of terror has spoiled the whole election atmosphere in the country. Friday witnessed two back-to-back attacks on election candidates. The first attack, in Bannu, targeted the convoy of former CM of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Akram Khan Durrani. While Durrani survived the attack, four people lost their lives. The second attack, far deadlier, claimed the life of Balochistan Awami Party candidate Siraj Raisani in Mastung along with at least 70 others. The two attacks came as many days after ANP leader Haroon Bilour, another election candidate, was assassinated in a suicide attack in Peshawar that killed 21 more.
The electioneering thus far had been going on fairly peacefully as compared to the general elections in 2013 that had forced many parties to stay indoors. However, terrorism has reared its deadly head once again, with a clear target — disrupting the July 25 vote. The forces that do not want to see peace in Pakistan are out to cause turmoil. For them, no other occasion could have been more suitable to execute their nefarious designs. With political polarisation at its peak, such attacks divide the country further.
These destabilising forces have chosen their targets after thorough planning. In Peshawar, the capital city of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, they attacked the election meeting of a nationalist party. In Bannu, they targeted the convoy of a big religio-political party. And in Balochistan, a newly-founded party composed of politicians believing in the mainstream politics was hit.
This pattern shows that all those parties which believe in federalism are the target of terrorists. In such a situation, holding of free, fair and peaceful elections is increasingly becoming a daunting challenge for the Election Commission of Pakistan and the caretaker government.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2018.
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