Pakistan’s top counter-terrorism body has warned that there were serious security threats to political leaders of all major parties and suicide bombers could be used to target them, a media report said on Sunday. National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) chief Suleman Ahmad told the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday that there were serious security threats to leaders and electoral candidates of all major parties, Dawn reported.
Briefing the Election Commission about security threats to the politicians and the overall security situation across the country, Ahmad said suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) might be used by terrorists, the paper said, citing its sources. The briefing took place days after a senior official named six politicians under threat, followed by three back-to-back deadly terror attacks in four days – two in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one in Balochistan – that killed nearly 150 people including two top political leaders.
The leaders under threat include Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, Awami National Party leaders Asfandyar Wali Khan and Ameer Haider Hoti, Qaumi Watan Party head Aftab Sherpao and banned outfit Jamaatud Dawa (Jud) chief Hafiz Saeed’s son Talha Saeed, the paper said. Separately, the Senate’s standing committee on interior affairs had also been told that the senior leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was also under threat.
The national coordinator of Nacta also explained how the authority gathered information on threats and the mechanism to promptly disseminate the information to the federal and provincial governments and law enforcement agencies. The ECP said that the electoral process will continue despite terror threats. It underlined the need to tighten security across the country and create a peaceful environment for the elections.
The provincial governments must act swiftly to provide security to political leaders and candidates, Ahmad said. He also advised political parties and candidates to cooperate with the administration and timely share information about their activities in the interest of their own security.
A senior Election Commission official told the paper that based on past experiences the ECP had already been taking up the issue of security at the highest level. He referred to a meeting held early last month where the ECP’s secretary had given a briefing at a meeting held with caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk in the chair, which was also attended by all four chief ministers, chief secretaries and inspectors general of police.