Independent candidate shot dead while canvassing in Bajaur: police

Published January 31, 2024
PTI-backed Rehan Zeb Khan. — Photo via Hammad Azhar/X
PTI-backed Rehan Zeb Khan. — Photo via Hammad Azhar/X

An independent candidate was shot dead in the Siddiqabad area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bajaur district on Wednesday, according to police.

The incident comes a day after four people were killed while six were wounded in a bomb blast at a PTI rally in Balochistan’s Sibi.

Khar Police Station House Officer (SHO) Rasheed Khan said Rehan Zeb Khan was canvassing in the area when unidentified armed men opened fire on his vehicle.

The cop said Rehan was taken to the District Headquarters Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds. According to the SHO, four other people were also injured in the attack.

Bajaur District Police Officer Kashif Zulfiqar told Dawn.com that the incident appeared to be a “targeted killing”. He said that law enforcement authorities were conducting a search operation in the area.

In response to today’s incident, the PTI said that Rehan was a party candidate for a National Assembly seat.

The lists released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) showed he was contesting as an independent candidate for NA-8 and PK-22. However, PTI records showed that Gul Zafar Khan was contesting from NA-8 and Gul Dad Khan was contesting from PK-22.

In a post on X, the PTI said Rehan was a “party candidate for a National Assembly seat” and strongly condemned the killing. It said that the fact that PTI-affiliated candidates and public gatherings were being targeted by “terrorist attacks” raised a “big question mark” on the fairness of polls.

“After the attack on PTI’s election rally in Sibi, the responsibility for the killing of the [party-backed] National Assembly candidate is on the incompetent caretaker government,” the party said.

The party demanded an immediate probe into the attack, adding that those responsible should be punished. It further stated that security should be provided to all PTI-backed candidates participating in the polls and called on the ECP to take notice of the incident.

It alleged that the caretaker government was focused on bringing one particular political party to power instead of discharging its constitutional responsibilities.

In a separate post, the party called on the chief justice of Pakistan to take notice of today’s incident as well as yesterday’s blast at a PTI rally in Sibi.

PTI leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan strongly condemned the killing and expressed concern that “an unacceptable plan is being made to break morale and push PTI out of the elections”.

PTI’s Hammad Azhar said that Rehan symbolised the country’s youth. Hammad said Rehan had wanted a better future for the people and was struggling in this regard.

Former provincial minister and party leader Taimur Khan Jhagra called Rehan Zeb a “die-hard PTI worker and aspirant”.

The ECP also took notice of the killing. Although it did not name Rehan, it said that it had taken notice of the killing of a candidate from NA-8 Bajaur.

The electoral watchdog sought a report from the KP chief secretary and police chief and directed that those responsible be punished.

Separately, in a media talk later in the day, the caretaker chief minister of KP said the provincial government was prepared for the upcoming general elections but at the same time admitted that there were security concerns in some areas.

He also directed the KP police chief to prepare a report on today’s incident within three days.

ANP worker killed in Balochistan’s Qila Abdullah

On the other hand, a worker belonging to the Awami National Party (ANP) was killed during the party’s election campaign in Balochistan’s Qila Abdullah.

The area’s deputy commissioner, Zakir Ali, told Dawn.com that the incident took place in Kohla Zai, where ANP candidates were busy in electioneering.

The official said armed individuals arrived on a motorcycle and shot the ANP worker, identified as Zahoor Ahmed, while another individual was injured. Ahmed was transported to Trauma Center Quetta where he succumbed to his injuries.

Following the incident, ANP workers blocked the Quetta-Chaman Highway at Syed Hameed Cross and demanded swift action against the perpetrators.

The ECP took notice of the incident and summoned a report from officials and directed action be taken against perpetrators.

Five injured in grenade attack on PPP election office in Quetta

Separately, five people were injured in a grenade attack on the PPP’s election office.

Sariab Superintendent of Police (SP) Shafqat Janjua said that according to preliminary investigations, unknown motorcyclists threw the grenade at the PPP office in the Gahi Khan Chowk area of Quetta.

The grenade rebounded off a car parked outside the election office and exploded upon hitting the ground, the official said. He added that five people, including a PPP candidate, Maddad Jatak, were injured.

According to SP Janjua, the bomb disposal squad and other law enforcement authorities reached the site and began collecting evidence.

In a statement on X, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari condemned the attack and prayed for the swift recovery of the injured.

“PPP workers are not afraid of such cowardly attacks,” he said, adding that the ECP should take steps to protect electoral offices.

The ECP took notice of the incident and summoned a report from officials and directed action be taken against perpetrators.

CM takes notice of attack incidents on election offices

Caretaker Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Ali Mardan Khan Domki took notice of the various incidents of vandalism at election offices and public places of political leaders in different areas of the province and sought reports of the incidents from the concerned department.

He also directed the Balochistan Home Department to increase security arrangements to improve the law and order situation in the province.

CM Domki directed the chief secretary and the Home Department to formulate a revised effective security strategy for maintaining durable peace in the area.

He also praised the timely action of the law enforcement agencies in the immediate response to these incidents and said that all agencies were cooperating with each other to thwart any conspiracy to tamper with the national process of general elections in the province.

“Coordination is active and all available resources are being used to restore peace,” he said.

“A conspiracy is keeping people away from the electoral process through creating fear which will be foiled by the contribution of security forces,” he added.

Domki said that all available resources were being utilised for the safety of people’s lives and property. He further said the people of Balochistan should actively participate in fulfilling the national duty of elections and democratically elect their representatives who could solve their problems in their areas for a bright future.


Additional input from Zahid Imdad and APP.


Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Rehan Zeb Khan was a PTI-affiliated candidate contesting the general elections. However, he was an independent contesting against PTI-backed candidates on a National Assembly and provincial assembly seat. The error is regretted.

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