At least six security personnel were martyred in separate attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan on Thursday, officials said.
The incidents came as nearly 128 million people across the country cast their votes amid an internet and cellular outage. Earlier in the day, the interior ministry said the decision to block mobile network services was taken in view of the security situation.
In KP’s Dera Ismail Khan district, four police officials were martyred in an attack on a police patrol.
According to local police chief Rauf Qaisrani, bomb blasts and firing targeted a police convoy in the Kulachi area. He added that the area had been cordoned off and further investigation was underway.
In a statement, interim KP Chief Minister Justice (retd) Arshad Hussain Shah condemned the attacks in Tank and Dera Ismail Khan. Media reports said one person was killed in a firing incident in Tank, although no official has commented on the exact number of casualties or the nature of the incident.
The chief minister said that such incidents would not deter police from performing their duties, affirming that the nation and the state were standing with the law enforcement agencies.
Meanwhile, two Levies and police personnel were martyred in Balochistan’s Kharan. The district’s deputy commissioner, Munir Ahmed Soomro, told Dawn.com that the incident occurred when a Levies vehicle hit a landmine en route to a polling station.
The official said seven security personnel were injured in the incident. Those in critical condition have been moved to Quetta, DC Soomro added.
Mohsin Dawar writes letter to CEC
Meanwhile, National Democratic Movement (NDM) Chairman and former lawmaker Mohsin Dawar wrote a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja regarding the “very serious and concerning security situation in Tappi, North Waziristan in NA-40”.
The letter, which was posted on Dawar’s account on X, stated that militants had been issuing threats to locals and the polling staff in the constituency.
“Three of our female polling agents very narrowly escaped attacks […] in the morning of the polling day on Feb 8,” he said, claiming that the “Taliban in the area have taken control of the polling stations”.
Dawar further stated that he had written a letter regarding the situation to the district returning officer but said it was “ignored”.
“The election commission has to take urgent notice of the situation and take necessary action to ensure the safety of the locals and the polling staff,” he added.
Uptick in terrorism
Pakistan has recently witnessed an uptick in terrorism, particularly in KP and Balochistan.
At least 28 people lost their lives in back-to-back blasts outside election offices in Balochistan’s Qila Saifullah and Pishin yesterday. Meanwhile, JUI-F leader Hafiz Hamdullah survived a gun attack on his vehicle en route to Chaman.
A day earlier, Amnesty International issued an unequivocal statement expressing profound concern about the “lethal and targeted” violence unfolding in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced concern over “all acts of violence against political parties and candidates”.
According to an annual security report issued by the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Pakistan witnessed 1,524 violence-related fatalities and 1,463 injuries from 789 terror attacks and counter-terror operations in 2023 — marking a record six-year high.
KP and Balochistan were the primary centres of violence, accounting for over 90 per cent of all fatalities and 84pc of attacks, including incidents of terrorism and security forces operations.
Additional input from Zahid Imdad and Arif Hayat