- TTP Influencing the polls
In what is going to be remembered as an election that had already been rigged before it was held, the Taliban too have joined in as collaborators of the forces who want to achieve results of a particular type. After killing ANP’s central leader Bashir Bilour during the 2012 election campaign, the TTP has now targeted his son Haroon Billour while he was conducting his election campaign, killing at least twenty ANP supporters along with him. Are the terrorists still free to dictate who is to be allowed to contest elections as they were in 2013? And this after Operation Zarb-e Azb, Operation Raddul Fassad, and several surgical operations all over Pakistan? The suicide attack that took place in Peshawar was aimed at sending a message loud and clear. As a TTP spokesperson put it, the killing was “revenge for ANP’s previous government” and warned of further attacks. What put the TTP against the ANP-PPP government that ruled the province from 2008-13 was the strong support by the coalition for the operation in Swat. The attack is aimed at influencing the polls by sending a wave of demoralisation among the supporters of the ANP in particular and the parties contesting against the PTI in general, thus reducing their participation on the polling day.
It was already understood that there were security threats to certain political leaders during the election campaign. Providing security to the contesting candidates is the duty of the caretaker administration and the departments and agencies both at the federal and provincial level. The Peshawar killings are a proof of negligence on their part. There is a perception that more time is being spent by those who matter on influencing the outcome of the elections than providing security to those who badly need it to conduct the campaign.
Let us not deceive ourselves. The terrorists have not been destroyed. They are very much there in cities as well as tribal area, at places in the garb of peace committees, at other places enjoying protection as members of the mainstreamed networks. As long as they have nooks and corners to hide, there is going to be no let up to terrorist attacks.