ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Interior has warned of a massive terrorist threat in the coming elections.
A presentation made during a meeting between officials of the ministry and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to discuss security issues revealed that the banned Jandullah organisation, in coordination with Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was planning to carry out large-scale terrorist attacks in Balochistan, with Nushki and Quetta as their particular targets.
Intelligence reports suggest that attacks on government and semi-government buildings, installations and personnel of security forces were also possible.
A participant of the meeting told Dawn that the meeting had been informed that the Balochistan Republican Army (BRA) was also planning to carry out attacks by improvised explosive device (IED) in Dera Bugti, Naseerabad and Jaffarabad. Usman Saifullah Kurd, a ‘commander’ of the Balochistan faction of the LJ, was planning terrorist attacks in Islamabad.
The meeting was also informed that the recent fighting among militants of the TTP, Lashkar-i-Islam and pro-government Ansar-ul-Islam from Jan 25 to March 18 might pose serious problem not only in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), but also in Peshawar and other settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The TTP is reported to be planning to carry out suicide and bomb attacks on important government buildings and installations in Peshawar.
Mirali-based TTP militants may carry out attacks in Khanewal, Multan and surrounding areas.
The meeting decided to set up a Joint Task Group comprising representatives of appropriate rank from operations wing of police, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Military Intelligence (MI), civil armed forces (CAF) and the ECP. The group will meet regularly to review security arrangements based on assessment of threat and changing needs as electioneering moves towards the polling day.
It was observed that provinces needed to prepare a contingency plan to deal with any eventuality. However, the Ministry of Interior will keep federal resources — manpower, equipment and expertise — ready.
The meeting also discussed security problems to be faced during movement of ballot papers, candidates, observers and the Election Commission’s staff. Various aspects of security during the election campaign and on the polling day were discussed.
It was noted that maintaining law and order was basically the responsibility of the provinces. The provinces were asked to send in advance their demand for requisition of army and civil armed forces for particular cities and places.
It was decided that the ministry would provide two helicopters to each province for air surveillance a few days before elections. At the request of the provinces, the ministry will coordinate with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for suspending mobile phone service in areas where there was possibility of terror attacks.
The meeting decided that the responsibility of security for foreign observers and foreign media would be of Islamabad police in the federal capital and Rangers, FC and provincial police in the provinces.
The meeting also decided that high level of coordination would be maintained among intelligence networks to effectively pre-empt and counter threats of terrorism.
Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim left for Quetta where he is scheduled to meet representatives of various political parties on Thursday.
The meetings will be attended by ECP members from Balochistan and KP and ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan. When contacted, the ECP secretary said all Baloch leaders may meet the ECP and convey their concerns. Asked about reports that Talal Bugti had refused to meet the CEC and his team, he said: “We do not think they will do so with guests.”