PISHIN: Just a day before of general elections on February 8, at least 28 people were killed while over 40 suffered injuries after back-to-back blasts hit Balochistan’s Pishin and Qila Saifullah on Wednesday. The first blast occurred in Pishin’s Khanozai union council, situated at an hour’s distance from Quetta.
Officially it is stated that the incident occurred outside the election office of independent candidate Asfandyar Kakar, who is contesting polls from PB-47 (Pishin 1). 14 bodies and 23 injured were moved to the tehsil headquarters hospital.
It is said the explosive material was planted in a motorcycle parked in the area. The police, bomb disposal squad and other law enforcement agencies immediately cordoned off the area and began collecting evidence.
The second blast was reported in Qila Saifullah shortly after. According to media report, 12 people lost their lives and 20 were wounded in the incident, which took place outside the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) election office.
The explosion occurred at the election office of former Balochistan minister and independent candidate Asfandyar Khan Kakar, located in PB-47 at Khanozai Tehsil of Pishin District. The independent candidate was not present inside his office when the explosion took place but his workers and supporters were present when the blast happened.
Security forces personnel swiftly responded to the terrorist explosion, initiating rescue operations and securing the area. The injured were rushed to a local hospital and those who were in serious condition were shifted to Quetta,
President, PM strongly condemn blasts
President Dr Arif Alvi and Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar have strongly condemned the Pishin and Qila Saifullah blasts that claimed lives of over two dozen people.
In separate condemnation messages on Wednesday, they expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the blasts.
President Alvi and PM Kakar sympathized with family members of those martyred in the blasts and prayed to Allah Almighty for the peace and elevation of the ranks of the departed souls.
Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar directed to ensure best possible treatment of the injured and sought a report into the incidents from the Chief Secretary of the Balochistan province.
The prime minister vowed to foil every attempt of the elements wanted to sabotage law and order in the country, reiterating the firm resolve of the government to hold the general elections in a peaceful environment.
Bilawal, Asif Zardari condemn
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday strongly condemned terrorist incidents in Qila Saifullah and Pishin areas of Balochistan. The two leaders sympathized with the families of those who lost their lives in the bomb blasts and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured.
Bilawal said the criminals involved in cowardly acts of terrorism should not be spared and urged federal and Balochistan governments to arrest them at the earliest.
ECP takes notice
In separate statements, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) took notice of the blasts and summoned reports from the Balochistan chief secretary and the provincial police chief.
Interim Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Ali Mardan Domki also took notice of the incident and sought a report from the provincial interior ministry. Expressing grief over the loss of lives, he directed the officials concerned to utilise all available resources to arrest the culprits.
CM Domki said the attacks were an “attempt to sabotage the process of peaceful elections” and asserted that all resources were being out to use to “provide complete protection to the public”. He urged voters to not be scared and to cast their vote tomorrow, adding that security arrangements were being improved.
Meanwhile, interim Balochistan Interior Minister Mir Zubair Jamali sought a report from DC Mandokhail on the Pishin blast. He said that the country’s enemies were looking to create instability. “The election process will not be affected by such an attack,” Jamali asserted.
On the other hand, the Quetta Bar Association said it would observe three days’ of mourning over the attacks. “We express deep sorrow and grief over the martyrdom of innocent people in the blasts of Pishin and Qila Saifullah,” Quetta Bar Association President Malik Abid Kakar said in a statement.
“Government and law enforcement agencies have completely failed,” he said. “They have abandoned their responsibilities and are busy with other activities,” he added.
Nine grenade attacks rock Balochistan
At least nine grenade attacks, targeting election offices of candidates and polling stations, were carried out in various areas of Makran division and the provincial capital, on Tuesday.
According to police reports, individuals riding motorcycles threw hand grenades at a government school in Killi Ahmedzai, located on the outskirts of Quetta, late in the evening. The grenade exploded in the courtyard of the school, designated as a polling station, damaging windows.
Law enforcement agencies also thwarted an attack at a government school in Pasni, where an explosive device was discovered near the Bagh Bazaar Government School. It was later defused by the bomb disposal squad.
In the Hoshab area of Kech district, an office of the National Database and Registration Authority office was attacked with a grenade, causing damage to windows but no injuries were reported.
Further reported incidents included a grenade attack on the residence of BNP-Mengal’s candidate for National Assembly, Mir Mohammad Yaqoob, in Awaran district, and an attack on the house of PML-N candidate Mir Mohammad Aslam Buledi in Buleda.
Two blasts were reported from the Panjgur town where the house of National Party leader Abdul Qadeer Sajdi and the residence of an independent candidate, Dr Noor Baloch, were targeted. Both leaders remained unhurt in the attacks.
PPP candidate Agha Gull also survived a grenade attack on his home.
Additionally, reports indicated an attack on a security forces post in the Tump area of Kech district, where a PRG-7 projectile was fired, causing an explosion near the post.
Rise in terror activities
Today’s blasts came a day after at least nine grenade attacks targeting the election offices of candidates and polling stations were carried out in various areas of Makran division and Quetta.
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.
Last week, 24 terrorists were killed during firefights and clearance operations in the Mach and Kolpur towns of Balochistan in three days, after security forces had thwarted three “coordinated attacks”.