Elections and the security situation

For those who are contesting elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), security, and threat of attacks are prime issues.

Khalid Munir April 12, 2013
The writer is a retired army officer who served in Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa [email protected]

While the nation is busy enjoying the consequences of the use of constitutional authority by returning officers, the recently created fear of a poor law and order situation during elections has taken a backseat. Rocket attacks on Peshawar, and soldiers getting killed in Tirah and North Waziristan have been overshadowed. Yet, for those who are contesting elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), security is the prime issue.

If we look at the situation that prevailed at the time of the 2008 elections, the picture was far worse. Starting from the north of K-P, settled districts of Swat, Shangla and Buner were under the control of the Taliban, headed by Mullah Fazlullah. FM radio stations, on a daily basis, announced lists of people who had been ordered to leave Swat or face execution. People were slaughtered on the roads and dead bodies were hanged in public places, with instructions that they not be removed before a given time. Government officials could not move in the area unless the Taliban escorted them. District Dir was busy fighting back against the Taliban through locally organised lashkars. Adjacent to the Bajaur Agency was a scene of fierce fighting between the Taliban and the security forces, which were trying to regain control of the agency from the militants. The area adjacent to the Mohmand Agency depicted the same picture. Darra Adam Khel, 20 kilometres from Peshawar on the main Peshawar-Kohat road, was under the combined control of the Taliban and the Sipah-e-Sahaba. Shias were taken off vehicles and killed on the main road. Kohat and its cantonment area came under rocket attacks carried out from Darra Adam Khel.

The south of K-P, Orakzai, North and South Waziristan were also under the control of the Taliban. Kurram Agency suffered the worst kind of sectarian violence ever witnessed in the country. The migration of the population on sectarian grounds became the norm. The city of Bannu was under the constant barrage of rocket attacks.

It is evident that conditions in K-P are now much better than in 2008. However, a new factor which has emerged is the situation in Khyber Agency. It was the only agency which had never been under the influence of the Taliban. Since the Nato invasion of Afghanistan, about 500 trucks crossed into that country through the border check post at Torkham. The MMA government, which held an anti-American stance in public, turned a blind eye towards the Nato supplies. Local business was thriving through this trade. Except for a few incidents of attacks on Nato supplies, the agency was free of Taliban influence. This was mainly due to the control of the Ansarul Islam (AI). The recent development of the Taliban defeating the AI and taking control of Khyber Agency has changed the situation. The military has started a major operation in Tirah. Reports of pitched battles and high casualties are being received. This can result in a backlash in the form of rocket attacks on Peshawar and bomb blasts in public places and political rallies.

Politicians in K-P will be carrying out their campaigns while under constant threat. Unfortunately, this will eventually result in political parties being reduced to carrying out their campaigns in indoor meetings.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2013.


cautious | 9 years ago | Reply

So what's new. Pakistan has a very large and expensive army which has allowed militants to control almost half of Pakistan - in such an environment can anyone expect fair elections in territory controlled by the militants. Past time for the military to do it's job - eliminate the militants and allow all Pakistani's the same rights, privileges and responsibilities.

True Pakistani. | 9 years ago | Reply

We can tolerate the adverse security situation. But what about prepoll rigging by previous Govt. Who distributed money worth Billions to their "Chamchas". Again the same old & tried people are running. What about cleaning the stable... Very disappointed with this all election Tamasha.

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