Khurram Minhas |
Pakistan is successfully passing through the second consecutive democratic power transition, which is a historic moment for the country by all means. However, fears of many have taken actual form. The season of the 2018 General Elections has witnessed a surge of violence. Peshawar, Bannu and now Mastung have bled. More than 200 people have been killed, and hundreds have been injured so far in five terror attacks in the past one week.
Two prominent provincial candidates of KP and Balochistan assemblies, Haroon Bilour and Siraj Raisani, have been martyred in these attacks. There are three major factors linked to these terror attacks. The first factor may directly link to the killing of Mullah Fazalullah and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Mullah Fazalullah was killed by the US in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province.
The country requires robust vigilance and extraordinary security arrangements to avoid potential future attacks from hostile actors before and during elections 2018.
Days later, on June 23, TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani confirmed that the group’s Shura council has elected Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud as the new TTP leader. Fazlullah had been ineffective since Operation Zarb-e-Azb. His control of the party was weak and activities were limited. Therefore, TTP could not initiate high profile terror attacks in the past one year. However, Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud’s decision during initial days will strengthen his position within the terrorist organization, TTP.
Therefore, he is trying to portray himself as a ruthless, brave, dynamic and a strong leader. For this purpose, he is targeting candidates of National and Provincial Assemblies. One cannot ignore the transnational factors linked with these terror attacks. The second consecutive democratic power transition, robust democratic activities in the country are leading to a better and stable Pakistan, which is not in the interest of some transnational actors. These terrorist attacks have severely damaged the political activities of leftist parties in the country.
Awami National Party (ANP) and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) had suspended their political activities for three days, while Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) cancelled its rally in Malakand on July 14 due to the security situation. In fact, the spokesperson of Pakistan Army, the US and other friendly countries shared the concern that these terror attacks are attempts to derail democratic activities in the country.
Peshawar, Bannu and now Mastung have bled. More than 200 people have been killed, and hundreds have been injured so far in five terror attacks in the past one week. Two prominent provincial candidates of KP and Balochistan assemblies, Haroon Bilour and Siraj Raisani, have been martyred in these attacks.
For almost seventeen years, Pakistan has faced the brunt of war against terrorism by sacrificing thousands of lives. Despite that the hostile countries tried to isolate Pakistan at international level by making a mockery of political and security. However, in the past few years, Pakistan has achieved extraordinary successes on political and security fronts. Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Radd-ul-Fassad have severely damaged the terrorist network in the country by killing and arresting thousands of terrorists.
The third factor, which is perhaps most important among all is the inability of interim setup to properly manage the security situation in the country. Unfortunately, the interim setup in Pakistan often brings uncertainty. The interim interior minister’s naive statement in the Senate on July 13, and inability to present a preliminary report of Bannu’s attack is a reflection of this uncertainty.
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The process of selection and appointment of ‘interim government’ is time-consuming and a wastage of government’s resources. This interim setup’s hasty selection brings people into power who have no plans to run the country. Therefore, Pakistan will ultimately require a strong political culture, maturity of the political elite and effective election commission that may hold free and fair elections without the requirement of interim political setup.
To conclude, the reaction of TTP and the role of transnational factors to weaken the security situation and damage the democratic activities in the country was highly anticipated. However, the ineffectiveness of the interim setup has provided a window of opportunity for terrorists to successfully maneuver against Pakistan. The country requires robust vigilance and extraordinary security arrangements to avoid potential future attacks from hostile actors before and during elections 2018.
Khurram Minhas is a research analyst in IPRI, Islamabad. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.