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A threat alert reportedly issued by the Sindh home department warning that the PPP might be planning attacks on Dr Zulfikar Mirza and his family and other Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) candidates has caused unrest among PPP's leadership in Badin district, it emerged on Thursday.

The letter titled 'Threat Alert GE-2018' and dated July 4 — a copy of which is available with Dawn — has been doing rounds on social and mainstream media since Wednesday.

Addressed to the commissioner and deputy inspector general of pol­ice (DIGP) Hyderabad, the letter signed by Section Officer Iqrar Ahmed states that a threat has been reported regarding the GDA leadership to the home department by "reliable sources".

"It is intimated that [the] PPP leadership has planned to create law and order situation before GE [general elections] and during election day," the alert states.

It warns that an attack may take place on PPP dissident Dr Mirza and his family members, and other GDA candidates during their election campaign and public gatherings. It also speaks of the likelihood of targeted killings of GDA-affiliated local leaders, influentials and voters.

The letter claims that the PPP leadership has tasked its Badin chapter coordinator and ex-MNA Gul Mohammad Jakhrani with bringing criminals in Badin before and after the polls to create a law and order situation in the district.

"A notorious criminal" Ameer Bux Umrani has been given the task to carry out the violence, it claims.

The elections in Badin are being considered "volatile" because of the political rivalry between Dr Mirza and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, the alert states. In this regard, the home department recommends that Dr Mirza and his family "may be provided police protection to curb the possibility of endangering [their lives]".

"Since this information merits extreme vigilance, high alert and stringent security measures, therefore, you in your capacity as Convener, [Divisional Intelligence Committee] may take all possible efforts as per the TORs of the committee to ward off any untoward incident," the section officer states, addressing the Hyderabad commissioner.

SSP Badin Sarfaraz Nawaz Shaikh while taking to Dawn confirmed the issuance of the directive to provide foolproof security to Dr Mirza, his wife Dr Fehmida Mirza, sons Barrister Hasnain and Hassam Mirza and two other GDA candidates including Riaz Khan Nizamani and Dr Abdullah Talpur.

Shaikh said that he had received a copy of the letter and was busy chalking out the security plan with the help of other security agencies in light of the directive.

Meanwhile, Badin Deputy Commissioner Asif Jan Siddiqui told Dawn that he would soon reveal a security plan to protect candidates. He, however, avoided commenting on the letter issued by the home department.

"Some documents during the election days happen to be secret and confidential, I am not in a position to comment on such issues," he said.

'Ridiculous directive'

When contacted, Gul Mohammad Jakhrani, who has been named in the threat alert, remarked that the home department had issued a "childish and ridiculous directive" ahead of the elections. He termed it as an attempt to rig the elections by bringing the local PPP leadership under pressure.

He said the letter contained serious allegations against him and senior PPP leader Ameer Bux Umrani, adding that he was already in Badin to canvass for PPP candidates as per directions of the party's top brass.

Jakhrani said he and other local as well as top leaders were mulling over the emerging situation and would move the courts against the misleading directive issued by the caretaker setup. He said no PPP leader was informed on the day it was issued, and it was beyond his imagination as to why the letter was made viral on social media and distributed among local journalists.

Credible sources revealed that the Sindh government has decided to give security to GDA candidates after receiving intelligence reports from law-enforcement agencies, which have been given the task to maintain law and order situation in the district.

Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur, the PPP candidate from NA-229 and Ismail Rahu, who is contesting the elections from PS-74 against Dr Mirza, termed the directive as a "grave conspiracy" against their party in the district.

They said it was strange that the Mirzas had been directed to be given security when they [the Mirzas] were themselves using "foul and filthy language" against them.

GDA's candidate from PS-72 (Tando Bago) and Dr Mirza's elder son, Hasnain, while talking to Dawn said they had come to know that the provincial government had ordered their security through media, but that they were yet to be officially informed what kind of security would be provided to them.

He said Dr Fehmida and other GDA candidates had written a number of letters to Election Commission of Pakistan officials, the chief justices of both the Supreme Court and Sindh High Court and caretaker Sindh government to provide them security of paramilitary forces since most of the police officials were "politicised".

Barrister Hasnain said it was their constitutional right to seek security from state agencies and the Sindh government since they were receiving serious threats after they announced to contest elections against the PPP in Badin. "Zardari and his cronies can go to any extent in the current situation, when their candidates are receiving a poor response from the voters of the district," he alleged.

Meanwhile, GDA general secretary Ayaz Latif Palijo urged the Sindh government to provide security to Dr Mirza and his family and the alliance's candidates in Badin in wake of the security alert.

He alleged that PPP leaders were hurling life threats and using "ugly tactics" against their opponents in various parts of the province.