Pakistan’s Taliban plans attack on landmark election day
Islamabad: Pakistan’s Taliban plan to carry out suicide bombings during Saturday’s election.
Since April, the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban have killed more than 100 people in attacks on candidates and rallies, particularly those of secular-leaning parties, in a bid to undermine elections they regard as un-Islamic.
The attacks have prevented candidates from the three main parties in the ruling coalition from holding big rallies. Instead, they have relied on door-to-door campaigning or small meetings in homes or on street corners.
However, the militants have not attacked the main opposition party led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which has courted support from groups accused of supporting militancy.
Army spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said 300,000 security officials, including 32,000 troops, had been deployed in Punjab, the most populous province.
“Definitely they have reports and obviously they have made a plan to counter that,” newspapers quoted him as saying, referring to security agencies getting threats of violence from the Taliban.
Another 96,000 security forces would be deployed in the northwest of Pakistan, where the Taliban operate from strongholds.
Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) has capitalized on widespread frustrations with the outgoing government led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The military has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 66-year history, either through coups or from behind the scenes.