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ISLAMABAD: National Coun­ter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) chief Dr Suleman Ahmad on Saturday informed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that there were serious security threats to political leaders and electoral candidates and revealed that the leaders of almost all major political parties faced the risk of being attacked.

Briefing the ECP about security threats to the political leadership and candidates and the overall security situation across the country, he said suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) might be used by terrorists, informed sources told Dawn.

Editorial: Security, intelligence gathering must improve to avoid more campaign carnage

The briefing took place days after a senior official named six politicians under threat, followed by three back-to-back terrorist attacks in four days — two in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one in Balochistan. What surprised many was the fact that the name of former KP chief minister Akram Durrani (of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl), who survived an attack on his convoy on Friday, had been on the list of leaders under threat. Nacta had also issued a specific terror alert.

Election commission says poll process will continue

The other leaders under threat include Pak­istan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, Awami National Party leaders Asfandyar Wali Khan and Ameer Haider Hoti, Qaumi Watan Party head Aftab Sherpao and banned outfit Jamaatud Dawa (Jud) chief Hafiz Saeed’s son Talha Saeed. Separately, the Senate’s standing committee on interior affairs had also been told that the senior leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was also under threat.

The briefing session was held in the chambers of Chief Election Commissioner Justice retired Sardar Muhammad Raza and was attended by other members and senior officials of the commission. The national coordinator of Nacta also explained how the authority gathered information on threats and the mechanism to promptly disseminate the information to the federal and provincial governments and law enforcement agencies.

The ECP vowed to hold elections on time and declared that the electoral process will continue despite terror threats. It made it clear that it would neither let the polls be delayed, nor would brook any hindrance in its way.

The ECP underlined the need to tighten security across the country and create a peaceful environment for the elections. He said the provincial governments must act swiftly to provide security to political leaders and candidates. It directed the provincial governments to review the security situation in coordination with relevant institutions to obviate the recurrence of terrorist incidents in future.

It also advised political parties and candidates to cooperate with the administration and timely share information about their activities in the interest of their own security.

A senior ECP official told Dawn that based on past experiences the ECP had already been taking up the issue of security at the highest level. He referred to a meeting held early last month where the ECP’s secretary had given a briefing at a meeting held with caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk in the chair, which was also attended by all four chief ministers, chief secretaries and inspectors general of police.

Power supply on 25th Separately, the ECP has also directed the Ministry of Energy to ensure uninterrupted supply of power on election day till completion of the vote count process (July 25 and night between July 25 and 26).

A letter written to the energy secretary on behalf of the Commission pointed out that under the schedule for polls to the National and Provincial Assemblies were to take place on July 25 and the polling will continue from 8am to 6pm. Immediately after polling will end, the process of counting votes will be held in the presence of the candidates or their authorised polling agents. “For accomplishment of this task satisfactorily, uninterrupted power supply is essential till the completion of the counting process on the polling day,” the letter reads.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2018