Qatar slams Pak­istan elec­tion rally blasts

Gulf Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Qatar voiced its strong con­dem­na­tion of the dou­ble ex­plo­sion that tar­geted two elec­tion ral­lies in the Balochis­tan and Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa in Pak­istan, caus­ing deaths and in­juries. In a state­ment yes­ter­day, the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs re­it­er­ated Qatar’s firm stance re­ject­ing vi­o­lence and ter­ror­ism, re­gard­less of mo­tives and rea­sons. It ex­pressed the state’s con­do­lences to the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and the gov­ern­ment and peo­ple of Pak­istan, wish­ing the in­jured a speedy re­cov­ery.

At least 133 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a politi­cian, were killed yes­ter­day in two at­tacks tar­get­ing elec­tion ral­lies in Pak­istan, in the dead­li­est day for the coun­try in sev­eral months, of­fi­cials said.

“The num­ber of dead has now risen to 128,” Qaim Lashari, deputy com­mis­sioner Mas­tung, a district of south­west­ern prov­ince of Baluchis­tan, told DPA.

He said that around 130 peo­ple were wounded in the at­tack and the num­ber of dead is likely to in­crease.

Nawabzada Si­raj Raisani, a can­di­date run­ning for the pro­vin­cial as­sem­bly, was among the dead, his fam­ily con­firmed.

“My brother is no more ... he has been mar­tyred,” Lashkari Raisani told me­dia af­ter the bomb­ing in the town of Mas­tung near Quetta.

Raisani was run­ning for a pro­vin­cial seat with the newly-formed Baluchis­tan Awami Party (BAP), pro­vin­cial home min­is­ter Agha Umar Bun­galzai told AFP.

“Mir Si­raj Raisani suc­cumbed to wounds while he was be­ing shifted to Quetta,” he added.

Raisani was the younger brother of for­mer pro­vin­cial chief min­is­ter Mir As­lam Raisani.

Both the mil­i­tant Is­lamic State (IS) group and a fac­tion of the Pak­istani Tal­iban claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack in, which has in­ten­si­fied fears of vi­o­lence in the run-up to elec­tions on July 25.

The bomb­ing is the dead­li­est at­tack to hit Pak­istan this year and comes just hours af­ter a road­side bomb killed five peo­ple in north­west­ern Pak­istan, local po­lice chief Khur­ram Rashid said.

Akram Khan Dur­rani, for­mer chief min­is­ter of the prov­ince of Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), was not hurt in the bomb­ing, which struck his rally in the town of Bannu, Rashid said.

Dur­rani, a can­di­date of the Mut­tahida Ma­jlis-e-Amal (MMA) party – sur­vived, po­lice said.

No group has yet claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for that at­tack.

Around 30 peo­ple were be­ing treated at a local hospi­tal, said physi­cian Jab­bar Ma­sood.

Pak­istani Tal­iban have been tar­get­ing the lead­ers of Dur­rani’s party in the past for the re­li­gious group’s sup­port and par­tic­i­pa­tion in the demo­cratic process, which the mil­i­tants say is a sys­tem brought in by West­ern in­fi­dels.

On Tues­day, a sui­cide bomber blew him­self at the elec­tion rally of a sec­u­lar Pash­tun party.

The bomb claimed by the Pak­istani Tal­iban tar­geted a rally by the Awami Na­tional Party (ANP) in the city of Pe­shawar.

Local ANP leader Ha­roon Bilour was among the 22 killed.

Thou­sands flocked to his fu­neral the next day.

Pak­istan Tehreek-e-In­saf (PTI) chair­man Im­ran Khan strongly con­demn the bomb blast in Mas­tung.

In his tweet, Khan said: “An­other con­demnable ter­ror­ist at­tack on a po­lit­i­cal gath­er­ing – this time in Mas­tung. Sad­dened to learn of Nawabzada Si­raj Raisini’s sha­ha­dat in this tar­geted at­tack as well as the sha­ha­dat of 15 other in­no­cent cit­i­zens.”

Elec­tion vi­o­lence by re­li­gious mil­i­tants is com­mon in Pak­istan.

For­mer prime min­is­ter Be­nazir Bhutto was killed in a bom­band-gun at­tack af­ter an elec­tion rally ahead of 2008 polls.

The at­tacks un­der­scored the fragility of Pak­istan’s dra­matic gains in se­cu­rity af­ter years of steady im­prove­ment and wide­spread op­ti­mism that things had turned a cor­ner.

The Is­lamic State group has a muted pres­ence in Pak­istan but has car­ried out bru­tal at­tacks there in the past, in­clud­ing the blast at a Sufi shrine in Fe­bru­ary last year which killed nearly 90 peo­ple.

Mil­i­tants have tar­geted politi­cians, re­li­gious gath­er­ings, se­cu­rity forces and even schools in Pak­istan.

But se­cu­rity across the coun­try has dra­mat­i­cally im­proved since gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions cleared large swathes of ter­ri­tory near the Afghan bor­der in re­cent years.

An­a­lysts warn, how­ever, that Pak­istan has yet to tackle the root causes of ex­trem­ism, and mil­i­tants re­tain the abil­ity to carry out at­tacks.

The mil­i­tary has warned of se­cu­rity threats in the run-up to the tense elec­tion on July 25, and said it will de­ploy more than 370,000 sol­diers on polling day.

Fol­low­ing the se­ries of at­tacks this week, ac­tivists called for Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties to re­main vig­i­lant to pro­tect can­di­dates dur­ing the fi­nal days of the cam­paign sea­son.

“The Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties have a duty to pro­tect the rights of all Pak­ista­nis dur­ing this elec­tion pe­riod – their phys­i­cal se­cu­rity and their abil­ity to ex­press their po­lit­i­cal views freely, re­gard­less of which party they be­long to,” said Omar Waraich, deputy South Asia di­rec­tor at Amnesty In­ter­na­tional.

Last month, a US air strike killed the leader of the Pak­istani Tal­iban, Maulana Fa­zlul­lah, in neigh­bour­ing Afghanistan in what the Pak­istani army called a “pos­i­tive devel­op­ment” that also sparked fears of reprisals.

Peo­ple gather at the bomb blast site in Mas­tung yes­ter­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Qatar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.