- Former PM Abbasi, Sheikh Rashid, Imran, Bilawal, Fazlur Rehman under threat of terrorist attacks during ongoing election campaign
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has summoned the National Counterterrorism Authority (NACTA) National Coordinator Dr Mohammad Salman Khan on Friday to evaluate threats to top political leadership of the country in the run-up to the elections.
A source told Pakistan Today that though the ECP has completed all its preparations to hold the General Elections 2018 on time, it is concerned about attacks on the political leadership of the country after receiving a report about potential threats to at least six top political leaders during the ongoing electioneering.
“In a bid to avoid any untoward incident, the election commission has decided to summon NACTA chief Dr Salman, who has also served as director-general of Intelligence Bureau (IB), on Friday. During the meeting, the ECP would assess the nature of threats and adopt a strategy to counter it,” the official said.
An official told Pakistan Today that the threats have been categorised as general and specific threats to political leaders. He said that the general threat has been issued for around two dozen politicians.
Under general threat, the official said, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and others have been issued security warnings.
He informed that the intelligence agencies had also warned of specific threats to former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, PPP Secretary General Nayyar Hussain Bokhari and his younger brother Rizwan Shah and PML-N leader Raja Javed Ikhlas among others.
Besides the top political leadership, public gatherings or meetings and processions during the election campaign can also come under attack.
According to the ECP official, an official from NACTA shared this information during a briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Interior a few days back. The official added that this was the basic reason that the ECP had issued a notice to Bilawal for violating the ECP code of conduct as the PPP did not inform about their rally in Lyari due to which appropriate security cover could not be provided to the PPP chief resulting in resistance against the rally.
According to the source, the ECP wants to ensure that no politician under threat takes out any rally without providing information to the local, provincial and federal governments to ensure proper security arrangements for them and party workers.
He said that the threat information was passed on to NACTA by Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) after proper working, adding that threats are not considered on a primary level.
The official further said that the information has been passed on to the interior ministry, provincial governments and inspectors general of police of all the four provinces.
It is pertinent to mention here that Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk was given a presentation on June 25 in which the participants were specifically made aware of the threat to political leaders and contesting candidates. The meeting was attended by all the caretaker chief ministers, the interior minister, chief secretaries, the federal interior secretary and police chiefs.
The ECP had also recently written a letter to the Punjab caretaker CM, expressing concerns over harassment and physical threats to candidates and called for taking immediate corrective measures to stop such happenings.
It is pertinent to mention here that threat alerts issued in the past before the Bannu prison breakup, the Army Public School attack and the Lahore terror incident were not taken seriously, which resulted in a huge loss of innocent lives.