That gaping holes in the security system continue to exist despite the fast approaching general elections is shown by the recent flurry of attacks, launched by the militants, on prominent political figures, including election candidates. In the middle of last week, it was the MQM that had lost one of its candidates chosen to contest from Hyderabad. One of the party’s former MPs had been killed a few weeks earlier in Karachi. Now on two successive days, Sunday and Monday, there have been three deaths of politicians in Swat and Dera Ismail Khan. Several were injured. Among the dead were one ANP candidate and two independent election campaigners and of the injured one is an ANP candidate and others are workers.

The scenario does not bode well, especially in the light of the Tehrik-i-Taliban’s (TTP’s) warning that its militants would target leaders of the PPP, the MQM and the ANP, which have known secular credentials, during the election period. Besides, the terrorist outfit voiced its opposition to the polling itself because it regarded democracy as incompatible with Islamic injunctions and practice. And giving sleepless nights to the entire nation – government functionaries, particularly security agencies, the Election Commission of Pakistan contesting political parties, as well as the general public – is the revelation that the TTP has prepared a hit list of between 30 and 40 candidates and high-profile political personalities. According to the information compiled from the decoded messages exchanged between activists of the TTP, even those who are supposed to be having a “soft” attitude to the TTP could be due for a surprise and should not consider themselves immune. They, probably, come in clash with its misguided understanding that Islam is against the electoral exercise.

Strangely, ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan has threatened to sue the Chief Election Commissioner in case another of its candidate or worker was hit, ignoring the undeniable ground reality that terrorism has been gaining strength during the five-year term of the PPP-led government of which his party had been a coalition partner. The dash that the TTP has of late been showing is no less due to the poor anti-terror policies of his government. Nevertheless, as elections are a desperate need of the country, all concerned must take stringent steps to ensure that they are conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.