Pakistan: In a tragic turn of events, Balochistan was struck by two consecutive explosions, claiming the lives of at least 28 individuals and leaving over 40 injured on Wednesday. The blasts, which occurred in Pishin and Qila Saifullah, come as the nation braces for its upcoming general elections, escalating concerns over security in the region.
The initial blast rattled the Khanozai union council in Pishin, situated merely an hour away from the provincial capital, Quetta. The explosion targeted the election office of independent candidate Asfandyar Kakar, who is vying for a seat from PB-47 (Pishin 1).
Shortly after, chaos ensued in Qila Saifullah as another blast struck outside the election office of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), claiming 12 lives and injuring 20 others.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) promptly responded to the devastating incidents, summoning reports from the Balochistan chief secretary and the provincial police chief. Interim Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Ali Mardan Domki also took swift action, demanding a comprehensive report from the provincial interior ministry. Expressing deep sorrow over the loss of lives, CM Domki condemned the attacks as a blatant attempt to disrupt the democratic process and assured the public of intensified security measures to safeguard the electoral process.
The unsettling events mark a distressing trend in Pakistan’s security landscape, with a surge in terrorist activities witnessed in recent times, particularly in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Just a day prior to the blasts, a spate of nine grenade attacks targeted election offices and polling stations across Makran division and Quetta. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced grave concerns over the escalating violence against political parties and candidates.
According to a recent security report by the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Pakistan experienced a staggering 1,524 fatalities and 1,463 injuries in 2023, marking a six-year high. Balochistan and KP emerged as the epicentres of violence, accounting for over 90% of all fatalities and 84% of attacks. The report highlights the severity of the situation, with security forces engaging in fierce firefights and clearance operations to combat terrorism.
The relentless wave of violence has cast a shadow over the electoral process, with candidates and civilians becoming increasingly vulnerable to targeted attacks. Recent casualties include the tragic death of an independent candidate in KP’s Bajaur district and a worker of the Awami National Party (ANP) in Balochistan’s Qila Abdullah.
As the nation grapples with these harrowing challenges, the resolve to uphold democratic values remains unshaken. Despite the looming threat of violence, authorities are steadfast in their commitment to ensuring the safety and security of voters and candidates alike.