Blasts Near Pakistan Candidates, Pakistan, February 7 — Two explosions outside political candidates’ offices in Pakistan’s southern region of Balochistan killed 26 people and injured scores today, officials said, heightening fears about security ahead of a general election.
Blasts Near Pakistan Candidates’ Offices Kill 24 on Eve of Electionupdate 5-blasts Near Pakistan
Pakistan heads to the polls tomorrow amid growing militant attacks and the imprisonment of Imran Khan, the winner of the previous national election, who has dominated the news despite an economic crisis and other problems affecting the nuclear-armed nation.
Authorities have stated that they are increasing security at polling booths. The initial incident, which murdered 14 people, occurred at the office of an independent election candidate in the Pishin district.
According to the province’s communications minister, the second explosion in Qilla Saifullah, near the Afghan border, occurred near the office of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), a religious party that has previously been targeted by militant attacks.
Yasir Bazai, the deputy commissioner of Qilla Saifullah, reported that a bomb planted on a motorcycle parked near the office killed 12 persons and injured 25 others.
It wasn’t immediately obvious who was behind the strikes. Several factions, including the Islamist terrorist Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and Balochistan separatist groups, have launched operations against the Pakistani state in recent months.
A TTP spokesman claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack on a police station in northwest Pakistan, which killed ten persons. The TTP has stated that it is targeting police and security personnel rather than election candidates.
Khanzai Hospital, near the scene of the explosion in Pishin today, reported 14 deaths and more than two dozen injuries. Jumma Dad Khan, the deputy commissioner of Pishin district, stated that the blast harmed numerous people.
“I’m appalled by today’s terrorist attacks and condemn those seeking to prevent people from voting,” stated British High Commissioner to Pakistan Jane Marriott. ‘Do not fall for him.’
The attacks occurred as political parties completed their campaigning in the calm period mandated by electoral regulations the day before the election. In a message from jail, Khan previously urged his followers to wait outside polling booths after voting, as rival political parties planned big rallies to commemorate the end of the election campaign season.
Any major assembly of Khan’s followers near polling stations might exacerbate tensions due to what they describe as a military-backed crackdown on him and his party, which has limited campaigning. The military denies intervening in politics.
“Encourage as many people as possible to vote, wait at the polling station, and then remain peacefully outside the Returning Officer’s office until the final results are announced,” Khan wrote on social media platform X, accompanied by an undated photograph of himself wearing simple black clothing.
His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party also published a video of Khan, taken just days before his detention in August, urging people to vote.
Kasim Khan, Khan’s son with British journalist Jemima Goldsmith, urged people to vote in a post on X, accompanied by an image of him and his brother brandishing the PTI flag. A PTI source confirmed the account belonged to Kasim Khan, marking a rare social media post from Imran Khan’s children, who have generally avoided the spotlight.
Nawaz Sharif, the electoral leader, led a massive rally in the eastern city of Kasur alongside his brother, former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is running in the same constituency.
Amid a sea of tens of thousands of supporters waving green party flags, Sharif urged the country’s youth to back his party and targeted Khan, who has historically received support from young voters in the area.
“Don’t fall for him,” Sharif said.
Supporters of the rival Pakistan People’s Party, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, gathered in the southern city of Larkana, where he might play kingmaker if no party wins enough parliamentary seats to form a government outright.
The former foreign minister and son of deceased Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto criticized opponents, including Sharif, for jeopardizing the country’s security and economy throughout their tenures.