Continued attacks mar election campaigning


Increasing violence in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the adjoining Federally Administrative Tribal Areas (FATA) has forced leaders and stalwarts of the former ruling coalition forces, the PPP, MQM and the ANP, to suspend their election campaigns or limit their political activities.

Since March 31, election-related violence has struck Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Karak, Peshawar, Swabi, Charsadda, Mardan, Nowshehra and several other cities and towns of the province.

Apart from the ANP, which has been the main target of such activities, workers of other political parties and supporters of independent candidates have also been attacked.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, headed by Hakimullah Mehsud, has claimed responsibility for 99 percent of these acts.

According to the data available, offices and rallies of at least 22 candidates of the ANP, PPP and independents have been attacked in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa so far, in which around 55 people have been killed and more than 150 people injured. Journalists have also come under attacks of the terrorists.

ANP’s Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Barrister Haroon Bilour and Mohammad Ahmad Khan, Haji Rahmanullah Khan, Amir Rahman and Mohammad Islam from Swabi, Masoom Shah from Charsadda and Shahid Khattak from Nowshehra, have all survived attacks.

Mohammad Islam, who was contesting election from Swabi lost his brother in a recent attack. Independent candidate from Bannu Adnan Wazir was injured in an attack and is now unable to run his election campaign.

In wake of the frequent terrorist acts, the ANP leadership has directed almost all its candidates and workers to close offices and suspend election activities.

The election campaign of PPP candidates was also affected. Zulfikar Afghani, who is contesting from NA-1, was attacked and forced to confine his campaign to door-to-door visits, press advertisements and telephonic calls.

The election related violence has also worried leaders and candidates of other political forces such as the PML-N, the JI, the JUI-F and the PTI. Even Aftab Khan Sherpao and Mehmood Khan Achakzai are reluctant to help their parties’ candidates in the party’s election campaign.

Observers are apprehending a very low turnout on the election day all over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

So far, the government has declared more then 1,000 polling stations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sensitive and has decided to deploy 10,000 policemen at these polling stations.

The Frontier Constabulary and Frontier Corps personnel will also assist the police force in maintaining law and order on May 11.