The bomb blast at the JUI(F) worker’s convention in Khar of Bajaur district, killed at least 35 people, and injured over 200 more, has raised spectres of previous elections when targeted parties were not able to campaign for fear of terrorist attacks. While no election date has been announced, the impending dissolution of the National Assembly will take place next month, and cause elections. The workers’ convention could thus be described as part of the pre-campaign activities that all parties engage in. A JUI(F) leader billed to appear, Hafiz Hamdullah, did not do so, and thus can be accounted to have had a lucky escape. While no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, there has been a noticeable uptick in TTP attacks ever since the Taliban took power in Kabul. Earlier in the month, an attack on military personnel in Zhob had led to Pakistan demanding that the Taliban government stop providing the TTP safe havens. That had not happened.
One of the salient features of this attack is that the TTP and the JUI(F) both belong to the same subsect. However, there is a major difference, in that the TTP does not accept electoral politics, while the JUI(F) does. There is also the possibility that the Daesh, or Islamic State, may be behind the attack. Though it has not even been active in Afghanistan recently, it has a presence usually of local groups within Pakistan, and consists of local groups affiliated with the TTP. The prospect of infighting among militant groups at the very time the whole country is about to enter an election campaign only means that the law and order situation will be disturbed. That is, even if there is no campaign against the elections by any group.
Even though the JUI(F) has got a share in KP’s power structure, having not just done well in the local body polls, but also the Governor, it now has to face the challenge of creating an atmosphere where candidates are able to campaign, and the polls to be held in an atmosphere free of pressure and coercion. If the situation is not controlled in KP, there is every prospect of the disorder spreading all over the country. It should not be forgotten that the provincial assembly elections in KP and Punjab were postponed after the intelligence agencies received reports that terrorism was rife. The time since has not been used effectively; at least that is what the Bajaur blast shows.