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As election violence rises, ECP seeks answers from Nacta

Updated July 13, 2018

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People are gathered at the site of a suicide attack on an ANP corner meeting in Peshawar that killed at least 21 people on Tuesday. — APP
People are gathered at the site of a suicide attack on an ANP corner meeting in Peshawar that killed at least 21 people on Tuesday. — APP

With terrorist incidents experiencing an upsurge ahead of the July 25 countrywide polls, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday summoned officials of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) to deliver a briefing over the security threats faced by election candidates.

The commission directed Nacta's national coordinator to appear before it on Saturday and provide a detailed briefing to the chief election commissioner (CEC) over security threats being faced by politicians and candidates, an ECP spokesman said.

Issuing the order, CEC Sardar Muhammad Raza strongly condemned an attack near the convoy of former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Akram Khan Durrani in Bannu earlier in the day. He sought a report into the incident from the caretaker chief minister, inspector general of police and chief secretary of KP.

Hours after the Nacta briefing was called, a suicide bomber targeted a political gathering organised by Nawabzada Siraj Raisani in Balochistan's Mastung district.

As per latest reports, at least 125 people, including Raisani, were killed in the attack. More than 150 were injured. The militant Islamic State claimed responsibility.

Editorial: Violence on the campaign trail

According to the ECP spokesman, the CEC has directed all federal and provincial governments to take steps to create a peaceful and favourable atmosphere for the elections and provide security to all candidates without any discrimination.

Referring to the Bannu incident, the CEC was quoted as saying: "The KP government should explain why adequate security steps were not taken despite repeated instructions from the ECP to ensure candidates' security."

The blast targeting Durrani was the third major attack in KP during electioneering, just days ahead of the general election 2018. On Monday, Awami National Party (ANP) candidate from Peshawar's PK-78 Haroon Bilour, and 19 others, were killed in a suicide blast.

The attack was claimed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which had also claimed responsibility for 2012 attack that killed Haroon's father, Bashir Bilour.

Last night (Thusday), at least two people were injured in a blast near the election office of Balochistan Awami Party in Khuzdar

Earlier this month, an attack on a PTI candidate's office in North Waziristan's Razmak tehsil had injured 10.

Meanwhile, the commission has declared more than 17,000 polling stations in the country as extremely sensitive.

According to the ECP, a total of 5,487 polling stations have been declared in Punjab and Islamabad, 5,878 polling stations in Sindh, 3,874 in KP and 1,768 in Balochistan.