ISLAMABAD: April was indeed the cruellest month. At least 110 people lost their lives and 723 people were injured in as many as 77 election-related attacks across the country during the month, and the violence shows no signs of abating.
So far, this week alone has seen attacks on the JUI-F, the PPP and the JI in which dozens have been killed, and on Wednesday (yesterday) two ANP workers died when a bomb exploded outside the house of an ANP leader in Bannu.
A security report compiled by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS) has revealed that during the month of April, 81 people were killed and 348 injured in 56 militant attacks targeting candidates, political parties and election-related activities. Another 29 people were killed and 375 injured in incidents of political violence by party workers.
“Attacks on political parties, election candidates, offices, rallies and meetings were a dominant feature of insecurity and violence in Pakistan during April,” the PIPS report maintained, adding, “These attacks were mainly perpetrated by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Karachi, and by Baloch insurgents in Balochistan.”
Most election related attacks have taken place in K-P and Balochistan, which reported 19 terrorist attacks each. Another 11 were reported from Sindh, out of which nine occurred in Karachi while two took place in Hyderabad. Five attacks were reported from Fata and two from Punjab. K-P was the worst hit by terrorism in terms of both total number of attacks and total casualties, with 70 dead and 248 injured in as many as 67 attacks, not all of which were election-related. Sindh follows with 57 people killed and 178 injured in 45 reported attacks in all, most of which took place in Karachi. Again, not all of these attacks were election-related.
“While the TTP mainly targeted so-called progressive and liberal political parties – namely the MQM, ANP and PPP– Baloch insurgents were indiscriminate in their attacks against political leaders and workers,” the report stated.
Baloch insurgents, mainly the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and the Baloch Republican Army (BRA), carried out attacks across 12 districts in the province. The attacks targeted both nationalist parties, such as the Balochistan National Party-Mengal and the National Party, and other parties including the Fazlur Rehman and Ideological factions of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Jamaat-e-Islami, the ANP and the PPP.
Balochistan, in fact, saw an overall spike in violence as compared to the month of March, with 56 reported attacks in which 26 people were killed and another 121 injured. The security situation in Fata remained more or less the same as the previous month with 29 people killed and 54 injured in 27 reported attacks.
However, PIPS noted that while attacks by the TTP and Baloch insurgents surged, sectarian violence declined significantly in April.
A total of 198 terrorist attacks were reported across Pakistan in April. The attacks claimed the lives of 183 people and injured 603 others. Following political leaders and workers, the attacks mostly targeted security forces and civilians, the PIPS report stated.
In an acknowledgment of the potentially volatile situation prevailing in Pakistan’s largest city, officials associated with the National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) told The Express Tribune that Karachi has been categorised as the most sensitive area in the country in the security plan for the May 11 elections.
Though the interior ministry has not officially released its security plan, the officials said 34% of the polling stations in the city are considered sensitive. In keeping with this, the officials revealed that over 59,000 security personnel will be deployed in Karachi on Election Day.
With the security plan now finalized, the officials also said that a total 750,000 security personnel will be deployed in order to secure over 72, 000 polling stations across the country.
ANP workers killed in Bajaur
Two ANP activists were killed when a bomb planted outside the house of ANP leader Abdul Manan went off in the town of Khar in the Bajaur Agency on Wednesday.
Both the activists were entering the house to participate in a corner meeting for Gul Afzal Khan, the ANP candidate for NA-44 when the explosion took place.
Asad Sarwar, the Assistant Political Agent of Khar, said that security forces along with the Bajaur Levies rushed to the site after the explosion and launched a search operation, but were unable to arrest anyone. Both the bodies were shifted to the headquarters hospital where they were identified as Imran and Kalimullah. Manan condemned the attack said that the party leadership and workers would not be discouraged by militant attacks.
JUI-F attack body count rises
Three people who were earlier badly wounded in Tuesday’s attack on the vehicle of Mufti Syed Janan, the JUI-F candidate for PK-43, succumbed to their injuries. These deaths took the total death toll to 15 people, while the 41 injured remain under treatment.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2013.