ISLAMABAD, May 1: The interior ministry has claimed that election-related attacks in the country are being patronised from across the western borders.
“We have intelligence reports that terrorists who have infiltrated from Afghanistan are involved in attacks on political parties during electioneering,” the director general of the ministry’s National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC), Tariq Lodhi, told Dawn on Wednesday.
He said although the caretaker government had issued directives for strict vigilance by security forces along the western borders to curb infiltration of terrorists, many had entered Pakistan before implementation of the orders.
The official, however, said that anti-state elements would not be able to sabotage the May 11 elections. A security plan prepared at the federal level was working to ensure that polls were held in a peaceful manner, he added.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), in a statement issued on Tuesday, had expressed dissatisfaction over the security arrangements for the polls and called for chalking out an action plan to maintain peace during the electioneering.
“We have informed the Election Commission that we have enough resources to cope with election-related terrorism and violence,” the official said.
Interior Minister Malik Habib also said: “We will hold the elections under all circumstances. The whole nation is fully prepared to participate in the elections and the law-enforcement agencies are fully prepared to frustrate nefarious designs of the undesired elements.”
Replying to a question about security threats to parties like the PPP, the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the NCMC director general said: “No restriction has been imposed on any party’s election activities…and guidelines have been issued to counter the designs of those who want to sabotage the elections.”
He said not only the public meetings and offices of the PPP, ANP and MQM but of almost all mainstream parties, including the PML-N, had come under attack.
The official said provincial authorities had been asked to allow candidates to hire private security guards. “Candidates in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been allowed to have five guards and their salaries will be paid by the provincial government. Similar arrangements have been put in place in the other provinces,” he said.
He, however, said all attacks on parties during electioneering were not carried out by terrorists and over half of them had been linked to political rivalry. “Many attacks in Sindh and Balochistan have been carried out by political rivals. The attack on Sanaullah Zehri was also carried out by his rivals and he lodged an FIR against his political opponents,” the NCMC chief said.