Deadly prelude: Taliban step up attacks on politicians

Qaumi Wattan Party leader killed in Swat blast; ANP politician survives attack in Charsadda.

Fazal Khaliq April 14, 2013
Soldiers examine the site of a bomb explosion on the outskirts of Mingora. PHOTO: AFP

SWABI/ MINGORA/ ISLAMABAD/ CHARASADDA: Taliban militants have stepped up attacks on politicians in an attempt to sabotage the first democratic transition of power in the political history of Pakistan. They mounted a string of attacks on politicians in different parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to deter them from running in next month’s historic elections.

A local leader of the Qaumi Wattan Party (QWP) of Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao was killed in a bomb attack in Swat district, while an election candidate of the Awami National Party (ANP) survived an assassination attempt in Charsadda district.

The ultraconservative umbrella of militant groups, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has threatened to disrupt the parliamentary election because they believe Western representative democracy runs counter to Islamic teachings.

The QWP politician, Mukaram Shah, who was also a member of the Qaumi Amn Jirga, was getting into his car when it blew up in the Banjot village of Sarbanr area on Sunday, according to the Manglawar police. Shah died on the spot.

There were, however, conflicting reports about the nature of the blast. Some people claim the explosive device was planted underneath Shah’s car, others believe it was a roadside bomb. The police said the bomb, weighing 25 kilogrammes, was remotely detonated.

Some media outlets reported that Shah belonged to the ANP – but his family denied the claim.

“We belong to the Qaumi Watan Party. Since our party has not fielded a candidate for the National Assembly constituency, my father had decided to support the ANP nominee for the seat,” Aleem Shah, son of Mukarram Shah, told The Express Tribune.

Aftab Sherpao’s faction of Pakistan Peoples Party has morphed into QWP for the 2013 elections. Local leaders of the party condemned the ‘cowardly attack’ and called for immediate arrest of the killers.

“He was our worker and actively supported us during the ongoing campaign,” Afzal Shah, a QWP candidate for provincial assembly constituency PK-81, told The Express Tribune.

In Charsadda, ANP ticket aspirant for provincial assembly constituency PK-21 Syed Masoom Shah and three others were wounded when Taliban militants detonated a bomb near their car in Shabqadar tehsil of Charsadda.

“Shah and his supporters were going to attend a political rally in the Katozai area when a bomb planted in a heap of garbage by the roadside exploded near their vehicle,” police official Zaman Khan told The Express Tribune. Shah and three ANP activists travelling with him were wounded.

The casualties were driven to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) in nearby Peshawar city, where medics said their wounds were not life-threatening. “Shah suffered an injury near his eye and bruises,” an LRH administrative official told The Express Tribune. “A team of medical specialists is examining him.”

The TTP claimed credit for both attacks. “We claim responsibility for the attacks in Swat and Shabqadar, in Charsadda,” the group’s spokesperson, Ehsanullah Ehsan told The Express Tribune in a telephone call from an undisclosed location.

He said the group would continue to attack politicians from the ANP, MQM and PPP. He called upon people to stay away from the election rallies of the three parties.

Meanwhile, police thwarted a bid to blow up the house of the PPP candidate for NA-13 (Swabi-II), Muhammad Naeem Khan, in Chota Lahore tehsil of Swabi district.

“It was a newly constructed house on Jahangira Road. Some labourers spotted the device on the rooftop of the house and informed the police,” police official Muhammad Ijaz told The Express Tribune.

The police rushed to the spot and blocked the road for traffic and called in Bomb Disposal Squad who defused the bomb planted in a pressure cooker. “The device weighed five kilogrammes,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2013.


Ricky | 8 years ago | Reply

Deep state's strategic assets are deciding the elections in favor of rightwing parties. This is the change our leaders have been promising. This is the only way they can win on the backs of Taliban who trust them and want them to be the guarantors. It is a shame that some still do not see clearly. There is only one choice either with Taliban or against Taliban.

Kamran | 8 years ago | Reply

Very unfortunate and tragic events unfolding. Innocent people are being killed and there is a kind of sadistic-cum-cowardly silence from all those who matter: army chief, election commission, president and chief justice, and leaders of mainstream political parties. Chief justice in particular takes suo motos on so many tragedies elsewhere, but never bothered to pay heed to the bloodbath in KP on daily basis. PM condemned the incidednt and sought report of the incident, but what's the use of a report? All is crystal clear. Terrorsits are targetting ANP and killing innocent people. They have successfully divided the nation between those who uphold a progressive, peaceful and democratic pakistan, and those who uphold (or remain silent on) the forces which want to use religion & violance to impose their agenda. As long as they r safe in hteir sancturies in waziristan, this will continue to push us towards abyss. As regards confusion about the political affiliation of shaheed Mukaram shah, it doesnt matter which party he belongs to or supports (let us not make it a point-scoring issue.). He was a brave son of Swat, among very few, who stood up to the militants boldly. Finally, the responsibility of the killings election candidates lies on election commission as it withdrew their security, stopped them to keep their own guards, and took no measures despite threats to them.

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