ISLAMABAD: Six leading political contenders in Pakistan’s July 25 poll are being targeted by terrorists, according to the country’s National Counter Terrorism Authority (NATCA).
NACTA official Obaid Farooq told a Senate standing committee on Monday that the six political figures were Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Awami National Party’s (ANP) President Asfandyar Wali (Khan) and its leader Ameer Haider (Khan) Hoti; Qaumi Watan party chief Aftab (Ahmed Khan) Sherpao; Akram Khan Durrani of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F); and little-known Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek’s candidate (Hafiz) Talha Saeed, son of Hafiz Saeed, the alleged Mumbai attacks mastermind.
Farooq claimed the “senior leadership” of two of the country’s largest political factions, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), were also under threat.
Fareed Rehman, PTI’s senior vice president for Islamabad, criticized the security arrangements extended to Imran Khan.
“(Imran) Khan has the highest number of threats conveyed to us in advance by NACTA,” he said, confirming the terror watchdog’s notifications on the threat level.
Rehman told Arab News that “when we ask authorities to provide security and allied facilities, no jammers, walk-through gates, bomb disposal units, ambulances or an evacuation plan are provided.”
ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak said he was unaware of any warning to the party.
Party candidates were busy campaigning, but no information on the terror threat had been disclosed during internal meetings, he said.
The terror watchdog received reports from intelligence agencies last week of 12 threats of which six were aimed at the politicians.
NACTA told the standing committee that responsibility to ensure safety and security during elections is being looked after by the Individual Security Threat Assessment Committee.
The National Accountability Bureau building is under threat from a vehicle bombing, Deputy Inspector General of Islamabad police Waqar Ahmed Chohan told the briefing.
The NAB has been in the spotlight since it took up the corruption cases of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and prosecuted the disqualified PML-N leader along with his daughter and son-in-law in the Avenfield house case.
Sen. Rehman Malik, chairman of the standing committee, ordered the Law Ministry to provide security to the politicians and NAB.
Secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan, Babar Yaqoob, he said had alerted the committee of possible violence as the political campaigns gain momentum.