Election campaign heats up despite attacks

Political parties organized huge rallies on Sunday but campaigning for general elections in May was marred by a bomb attack which killed two people in Bannu.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan(TTP) have issued threats against the three main parties that made up the outgoing government and who backed army operations against militants.

But that did not deter politicians from holding processions on Sunday to attract voters on May 11, an election which stands to mark the country’s first democratic transition to power.

A roadside bomb attack killed two and injured six others including a candidate in the town of Bannu, marring an election rally by the Awami National Party(ANP), which has borne the brunt of TTP attacks in the northwest.

Elsewhere in the region, Imran Khan, who heads the Tehreek-e-Insaaf, drew an impressive crowd in Mingora, home to teenage rights activist Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head by the TTP last October.

“It is a matter of only six weeks, prepare yourselves for elections, we will establish a new Pakistan,” Khan told his supporters, while vowing to bring peace to the troubled border areas where Militants have in recent years waged an insurgency.

Pakistan says more than 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

Authorities in Lahore meanwhile shut down mobile phone networks as a security precaution ahead of a huge rally organised by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) headed by Fazlur Rehman.

In Karachi, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) also organised a public rally, as did the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) .

Last week, the frontrunner in the election race, opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, attracted tens of thousands to a rally in Mansehra where he promised development and economic success.

Media reported hundreds of candidates and their supporters were seen gathering outside election commission offices across the country after authorities extended a deadline for the submission of nomination papers to midnight.

Source: AFP