A timeline of pre-poll violence

May 07, 2013


The file photo shows a scene of a blast near an ANP rally in Peshawar. - File Photo
The file photo shows a scene of a blast near an ANP rally in Peshawar. - File Photo

To read the accompanying feature on election violence and how parties under attack are responding, click here

December 10, 2012: A bomb explodes at a gathering of the secular Awami National Party (ANP) in Charsadda, injuring seven people. The bomb contained 500 grams of explosives detonated by a remote controlled device.

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) assumes responsibility for the blast and threatens to launch attacks directed at the secular parties of Pakistan, namely, ANP, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and later, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

December 22, 2012: Twelve days later, a suicide attack on a meeting of the ANP killed Bashir Bilour, a senior ANP leader and former provincial minister and eight others in Peshawar. TTP assumed responsibility for the attack, adding that the attack on Bilour was a revenge for the previous “martyrdom” of TTP’s senior leader Sheikh Naseeb Khan.

January 1, 2013: On the first day of the new year, an explosion ripped through a bus that was carrying participants to a MQM rally in Karachi’s Ayesha Manzil area. Four people were killed and at least 40 others injured in the bomb blast.

TTP claimed responsibility for the blast and its spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the blast was meant to target MQM, adding that more attacks would follow. He also warned the public from attending any MQM rallies, according to the Express Tribune.

January 12, 2013: ANP leader Bashir Khan Umarzai was targeted in a blast that took place in his hometown of Charsadda in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and was injured amongst the 15 injured.

However, the motive for the attack was considered to be apolitical by the police as they said that Taliban’s affiliates in the neighbouring Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) were also involved in taking money for attacking people’s rivals.

Therefore, the KP police concluded that the attack’s motive was linked to a blood feud between the influential families of Charsadda.

The police came to this conclusion despite the similarities between the attack on Umarzai and other attacks that killed senior ANP leaders like Bashir Bilour and other party workers.

February 3, 2013: Speaking to media in a video from an undisclosed location, the TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan cited TTP’s reasons for targeting the MQM, who were being targeted in order “to bring [the party] to justice and support the innocent people” because the MQM engaged in “open acts of terrorism [by] killing […] innocent people and religious scholars”, as well as the atrocious acts of extorting money from traders and killing them too.

The TTP spokesperson further said that MQM were targeted previously and similar attacks shall continue to be launched against them.

February 15, 2013: Former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister and ANP leader Ameer Haider Khan Hoti escaped unhurt in a suicide attack targeted at his convoy as it passed outside the Abdul Wali KhanUniversity in Mardan.

March 12, 2013: A gas explosion occurred outside the home of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa information minister and ANP senior leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain in the town of Pabbi in the KP province. Six people, including three children were injured in the blast. However, the possibility that it may be a terrorist attack was ruled out.

March 14, 2013: Election candidates in KP began expressing worries about their safety due to the threat of attacks that would disrupt the electioneering in the province.

March 23, 2013: TTP threatened to assassinate former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf when he returned to Pakistan to contest in the elections. A month after the TTP threatened to assassinate Musharraf, an explosives-laden car was found outside his Chak Shehzad home.

March 25, 2013: Election candidates in Bara call for the May 11 polls to be postponed in the NA-46 constituency because of the threats received from a militant group and the lack of a foolproof security plan for the candidates to carry out their campaigning.

March 31, 2013: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for a blast in the Jani Khel area of KP’s Bannu district. Two people were killed and eight others injured. The blast was directed at the convoy of Malik Adnan Wazir, a former provincial assembly member and belonged to ANP.

April 2, 2013: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) called off a large-scale public rally meant to launch its election campaign for the 2013 elections amid security threats and instead held small-scale events.

April 4, 2013: District office of Election Commission of Pakistan was attacked in the Kharan district of Balochistan by unknown militants. One policeman was injured in the attack.

April 9, 2013: Federal caretaker interior minister Malik Mohammad Habib Khan reassures that the caretaker governments at the centre and in provinces were going to cooperate with the ECP in making detailed security arrangements for ensuring free and fair election on May 11.

April 10, 2013: Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim appealed to the chiefs of different political parties to help the ECP keep order in the run-up to the May 11 elections and prevent any attempts to sabotage the electoral process in any manner whatsoever.

April 11, 2013: TTP assassinates a MQM candidate for the Sindh assembly’s PS-47 seat in Hyderabad, Sindh. Fakhrul Islam, 46, was sprayed with bullets and sustained fatal injuries to his head and abdomen and died on spot.

On the same day, the former agriculture minister of KP province, Arbab Ayub Jan escaped a remote-controlled bomb attack in Peshawar. He was returning from an election rally when his car was targeted near the Tarnab farms, injuring his driver in the process.

April 14, 2013: A local ANP leader, Mukaram Shah, was killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack that occurred in Swat’s Manglawar area, while another ANP candidate Syed Masoom Shah was injured in a bomb blast that occurred near the venue of a party rally in Charsadda.

April 15, 2013: ANP leader Senator Zahid Khan warned that his party would register an FIR against the ECP if any of its leaders were hurt due to the lack of security. The party has complained of deficient security many times since the election campaigns began, as well as criticised other political parties and the media for not criticising the attacks on the political parties of the previous coalition government.

On the same day, the interior ministry announced stricter security measures for protecting the lives of members and candidates of political parties, especially ANP, MQM and PPP.

April 16, 2013: PPP candidate for NA-1, Zulfiqar Afghani’s house was attacked by unidentified militants who threw a hand grenade at the premises. Everybody in his house remained safe as the grenade exploded on the roof of the house. No damage to life or property was reported.

Separately, a bomb blast occurred at ANP’s rally in Peshawar’s Yakatoot area where 16 people, including two children, a journalist and six police officials were killed while dozens others, also including children and women were injured. The blast was reported to have occurred just after senior ANP leader Ghulam Ahmed Bilour arrived.

In a separate incident, a bomb blast targeted the convoy of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) provincial chief of Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri in the Khuzdar district. At least four people were killed in the blast, including Zehri’s son, brother, nephew and a guard. At least 25 other people were injured in the blast.

April 18, 2013: A bomb was discovered near the Mardan Press Club in KP’s Mardan town. An office of the ANP was also situated in the vicinity and possible target for the bomb attack.

PTI chief Imran Khan’s house in Islamabad was attacked by “miscreants” who mistreated his brother-in-law and other family members. Islamabad police was criticised for not responding to repeated calls by the family. PTI official Shireen Mazari demanded that the interior minister to tender his resignation immediately as he had failed to provide adequate security to Khan.

On the same day in Peshawar, at least two explosions and gunfire was heard in the vicinity of the office of a political agent on Bara Road. At least five people were killed and seven others were injured in the incident.

April 21, 2013: A hand grenade was thrown at the residence of Muhammad Hashim Baloch, an election commission officer in Kharan, Balochistan. The attack injured his daughter and damaged the windows of his residence.

On the same day, the election camps of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in Karachiwere set on fire.

April 22, 2013: In Turbat, Balochistan, the house of National Party (NP) chief Dr Malik Baloch was attacked, whereas two ANP activists were killed when unknown gunmen fired upon the party’s election rally in the Pishin district. The attacks were claimed by the banned Baloch Liberation Army.

April 23, 2013: At least six people were killed and another 45 injured in an explosion in Quetta’s Nichari road area. The election office of a PML-N candidate was also situated in the same area. The banned militant outfit, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the blast.

On the same day, MQM chief Altaf Hussain ordered a temporary shutdown of MQM’s election offices following the attacks on the party workers and supporters.

April 24, 2013: Eight separate bomb blasts rocked Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces of Pakistan. The cities of Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan respectively claimed at least 11 lives and left up to 75 people injured.

April 25, 2013: TTP was reported to be distributing pamphlets in Buner, Peshawar and different areas of Karachi as a warning to the citizens to not participate in the upcoming May 11 polls. The pamphlets warned the voters that they would be entirely responsible for their lives should they choose to participate in the election.

April 26, 2013: Protestors staged a sit-in protest on the ICI bridge and Mauripur Road in order to protest against the killings of “innocent” PPP workers in a shootout that took place in Lyari on Tuesday night.

On the same day, MQM chief Altaf Hussain alleged that the recent wave of attacks on ANP, MQM and PPP were a part of a plot to bring the right-wing parties into power in the May 11 polls.

A bomb blast occurred at a corner meeting of the ANP near the Mominabad Police Station in Karachi’s SITE area. The attack killed at least 10 people, including a child and more than 40 people sustained injuries. The attack was claimed by the TTP.

The Rangers arrested four activists of the Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party (STPP) in Hyderabad’s Qasimabad area, as well as fired upon a crowd that had gathered there in order to disperse it.

April 27, 2013: A bomb-and-rocket attack hit the rally of Muhammad Hashim Shahwani, a candidate of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) held in Machh. Six people were injured in the attack and two vehicles were damaged.

Separately, grenade attacks were launched on the election office of the National Party (NP) and the house of Azim Buledi in Kech, a provincial assembly candidate of the same party.

In Karachi, two separate blasts occurred near an election office of the MQM in OrangiTown’s Qasba Colony. The blasts killed at least two people and injured 25 others, including two children.

The blasts at MQM’s election office were followed by another bomb blast targeting an election meeting of ANP’s candidate Bashir Jan in OrangiTown, killing at least 11 and injuring over 50 people. TTP claimed responsibility for this attack.

ANP’s former Balochistan MPA Sultan Tareen was kidnapped on March 5 in the Pishin district. He was released a month later after ransom was paid.

April 28, 2013:  A corner meeting of the PPP candidate for PS-111, Adnan Baloch was attacked, killing at least three people, including a woman and injuring about 20 others in Karachi’s Lyari area. Adnan Baloch was also injured in the attack.

On the same day, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said that TTP was only targeting those secular parties who were a part of the previous government and thus, responsible for the military operations against the Taliban and other militant outfits in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Early in the morning on April 28, a group of paramilitary Rangers raided a PPP election office in Karachi’s Lyari area, as well as encircled and searched the houses of Uzair Jan Baloch, head of the Karachi City Alliance (KCA).

A bomb blast took place in Swabi, killing a child and injuring 13 others, when people attending a corner meeting of the ANP provincial assembly candidate Amir Rehman were returning from the meeting.

April 29, 2013: Election offices of three candidates in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kohat, and Peshawar were attacked with bombs, killing at least nine and leaving 56 injured. According to a foreign news agency, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the attacks on behalf of the TTP.

In a separate incident, a convoy of an election candidate of the ANP was also targeted in Swabi with a remote-controlled bomb, killing a teenager and injuring 13 other people. This attack was also attributed to the Taliban.

Another bomb blast occurred outside the office of an independent candidate, Nasir Khan Afridi in Maqsoodabad near Charsadda. The explosion killed three people and injured 20 people, including children.

A motorcycle laden with explosives was recovered from Karachi’s Landhi area by the local police, as well as a Suzuki Hi-roof vehicle packed with explosives and other weapons in Karachi’s Islamia Colony. It was suspected that the former was to be used to target an election rally in the city.

In a rare show of support, ANP, MQM and PPP came together and vowed to remain “fight terror” and remain brave in the face of attacks on their election candidates and offices by the TTP in the run-up to the May 11 polls.

April 30, 2013: An independent election candidate, Abdul Fateh Magsi and three other were killed in Balochistan’s Jhal Magsi area by unknown attackers, leading to the postponement of general election in the PB-32 constituency by ECP.

In a separate incident, two MQM workers were shot dead by unknown gunmen in Hyderabad’s Latifabad area.

May 1, 2013: A convoy of National People’s Party (NPP) candidate Dr Ibrahim Jatoi was hit by a bomb blast near the Shikarpur toll plaza in Sindh. The attack injured at least two people while Jatoi escaped unhurt.

Three people were reportedly injured in a separate explosion in Balochistan’s Dera Murad Jamali area.

In Peshawar, the bomb disposal squad thwarted two bids to sabotage the election campaigns of candidates of the ANP and the PML-N, contesting for the provincial assembly seats. The first explosive device was defused in Mathra where it was meant to target PK-8 candidate for ANP’s Arbab Nazir. The second one was defused near the house of the PML-N candidate for PK-7, Syed Abbas Ali Shah alias Mouzam Bacha in the Bacha Ghari area of Pir Bala on Warsak Road.

The ECP also finalised a security plan for the polling day next week in the wake of the targeted attacks on political parties and their candidates and workers. According to the plan, squads of 20 to 30 army personnel would be utilised as units of quick response forces on May 11.

A hand-held bomb was hurled at an election office of the PML-N candidate Haji Lashkari Raisani situated in Quetta’s Arbab Ghulam Ali road area by unknown armed men. Four party activists were injured in the incident.

May 2, 2013: Unknown bombers blew up two schools designated as polling stations in the upcoming May 11 polls in the Chattar village in Balochistan’s Naseerabad district. A boys’ primary school and a middle school were targeted in the blast. The incident has been confirmed by the police but no one had claimed responsibility for the attack.

May 3. 2013: TTP gunned down the ANP candidate for NA-254, Sadiq Zaman Khattak and his four-year-old son in Korangi’s Bilal Colony area in Karachi. Khattak was the general secretary of the party in District East of Karachi.

May 4, 2013: A time bomb exploded outside the election office of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) near Peshawar’s Panchgai road. PTI’s election office and nearby shops were damaged in the blast.

In a separate incident, a bomb blast occurred near the convoy of a Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) candidate Raj Mohammad for the NA-39 constituency in the Hangu district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. He survived the blast uninjured.

May 5, 2013: Violence broke out between rival political parties in Karachi’s Landhi area just before the May 11 polls. The violence claimed one life and left four other people injured, according to both police and party sources.

Three people were killed and at least 40 were injured in a bomb blast targeting an MQM election office in Karachi’s Azizabad area on Saturday night. That election office was situated near MQM’s headquarters, Nine-Zero.

May 6, 2013: A bomb blast occurs in Charsadda’s Shabqadar Mirzai area targeting a PPP election office, completely destroying the office premises and wounding a man, according to sources.

Separately, a worker of the Pakistan Muslim League – Functional (PML-F) was gunned down and three others injured in an armed attack on an office of the party in Karachi’s Ayub Goth area, according to the party and police sources.

May 7, 2013: ECP announces an increase in security arrangements at polling stations for the May 11 polls. According to the revised plan, most sensitive polling stations shall have ten personnel instead of nine, while nine of them would be deployed at less sensitive polling stations instead of the original eight.

Furthermore, non-sensitive polling stations would have five security personnel stationed there instead of four as previously specified. He added that the army would remain on stand-by as a quick response force.

An explosion targeting the rally of a JUI-F candidate, Mufti Syed Janan in KP province’s Hangu district killed ten people and wounded 22 other people. Janan and his two bodyguards were also injured but he was reported to be out of danger. After the attack, a curfew was imposed in the Hangu district, where the bomb blast took place in Doaba town.

In a separate incident, another bomb blast targeted a PPP rally in the Baba Gam village of Lower Dir. The explosion killed three people and wounded five. It was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED), which exploded near the vehicle of the brother of Muhammad Zamin Khan, a PPP candidate from the PK-96 candidate from Lower Dir.