ISLAMABAD: A counterterrorism official warned on Tuesday that terrorists could target top leaders of political parties during their election campaigns.

“We have received as many as 12 threat alerts which are about leadership of political parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and six personalities can be targeted during election,” Director of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) Obaid Farooq said while briefing a sub-committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior.

The committee, headed by PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi, has been constituted to look into security arrangements for the July 25 general elections and officials of law enforcement agencies provided to different personalities.

Mr Farooq said that Nacta got information from the Inter-Services Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau and then alerts were sent to different quarters through fax.

Punjab home department orders security for PPP, ANP candidates

“In the past a threat alert was sent that the Army Public School, Peshawar, could be attacked and after four months it happened. Similarly, some other alerts were issued, but precautionary measures could not be taken,” he said.

The chairman of the committee said that such alerts should be taken seriously.

Briefing the committee, Senior Superintendent of Police Security, Karachi, Hassan Sardar Niazi said that Sindh had benefited the most from the order of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar about withdrawal of security from influential personalities.

He said as of today 1,000 security personnel and 50 vehicles had been returned to the police department which could now be used efficiently.

The CJP had directed all provincial police chiefs in April to withdraw the security protocol provided to influential individuals not entitled to official security. However, later the CJP said that security could be provided to those who were really under threat.

The committee in its next meeting will take detailed briefings from police departments of the four provinces.

Later talking to newsmen, Nacta director Obaid Farooq said there were threats to leaders of all political parties, including religio-political parties.

Mohammad Asghar adds from Rawalpindi: The Punjab home department has directed the authorities concerned to provide security to the candidates of the PPP and the Awami National Party in the province during their election campaigns.

The cabinet sub-committee on law and order had decided at a meeting held earlier this month to intimate the leadership of these political parties about the threats from the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The meeting, presided over by the additional chief secretary of Punjab, was informed that days before he was killed in a drone attack in Afghanistan, TTP commander Mullah Fazalullah had issued directives to increase terrorist activities in Pakistan — to target the PPP and ANP during the general elections, in addition to carrying out terrorist attacks in various parts of Pakistan.

Police have also been directed to follow the guidelines issued by the home department in letter and spirit for the security of important personalities who are under threat during their public gatherings.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2018

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