ISLAMABAD: The top leadership of the caretaker regime on Friday was informed that the upcoming general elections faced a serious security threat as major anti-state outfits such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) and Baloch rebels with aid of al Qaeda were conspiring to disrupt the election process.
A government source on condition of anonymity told Pakistan Today that caretaker Interior Minister Malik Habib Khan and an official of a premier intelligence agency, during their separate briefings in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, had made startling revelations about the terrorists’ plans to disrupt the elections.The meeting was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Najam Sethi, Balochistan CM Nawab Ghaus Bukhsh Barozai and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CM Justice (r) Tariq Pervaiz. The Sindh CM could not attend the meeting due to some unavoidable engagement.
“TTP, LJ, BLF and other outfits have ganged up with al Qaeda to target political rallies and public meetings, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) would be the war zone and politicians would be attacked without mercy by terrorists,” the source quoted the intelligence official as informing the meeting. The Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would be the prime targets of terrorists, he added.
The source said the intelligence official shared reports that sectarian attacks were also likely in Punjab where the law and order situation has been relatively better compared to the other provinces.”The meeting was also informed that Nawaz Sharif may also come under attack during his election campaign. Moreover, the threat is minor for interior Sindh and rural Punjab where the terrorists have minimal footprint as compared to Karachi where terrorists have established a strong base,” the source said.
The meeting was also informed about the terrorists’ plans in Balochistan.”Balochistan CM Barozai called for a military operation against the rebel groups, particularly the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Baloch Liberation Front (BLF),” the source said.The meeting was informed that law enforcement agencies were on high alert keeping in view threats to political leaders and to ensure that the elections are held on time and in a secure environment.
“Since the real threat is in KP and FATA, special forces would be deployed there and the places of political gatherings would be made secure. Moreover, the Rapid Response Force (RRF) would be available round-the-clock and they would be ready to move and counter any threat,” the source quoted the interior minister as telling the meeting.
ELECTIONS ON TIME
Briefing journalists about the meeting, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Arif Nizami dispelled fears about a delay in general elections, reaffirming the caretaker government’s resolve to hold timely elections in a fair and free manner.
Addressing a joint press conference along with Minister for Law and Justice Ahmer Bilal Soofi and Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddique Akbar, Nizami said that Prime Minister Khoso had praised the political parties for their active participation in the ongoing electoral process and stressed upon the Ministry of Interior and provincial home departments to plug the security loopholes which might affect the process.
“The Sindh chief secretary attended the meeting on behalf of the Sindh CM while the KP governor, secretaries of interior and defence, chief secretaries of the four provinces and directors general of ISI and IB also attended the meeting. They discussed the overall political situation in the country with special focus on the prevailing law and order,” he said.
Nizami said the PM told the participants that as the election day was nearing, law and order was becoming a challenging task for the caretaker government. “There is a need to restore and strengthen the people’s confidence by ensuring a peaceful environment during the elections and by maintaining law and order,” Nizami quoted Khoso as telling the meeting participants.
POLLING STATIONS AND SECURITY
The meeting was informed that 90,000 polling stations would be set up for 272 National Assembly and 728 provincial assemblies’ seats across the country. He said the KP CM had asked the federation to provide 10,000 security personnel and his request had been granted.
Regarding the treason trial of former president and army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf, Nizami said the interim government would implement all orders of the courts in letter and spirit.Law Minister Ahmer Bilal Soofi said that law enforcement agencies were handling the situation after the cancellation of Musharraf’s bail and the caretaker government was not interfering in their affairs. – PT