QUETTA  -  The death toll in one of the most lethal attacks in the country’s history increased to nearly 150 on Sunday as top politicians joined a day of national mourning.

The caretaker federal government announced to observe the day over recent terrorist attacks in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The updated casualty figures from the Mastung attack were issued as politicians and top government officials visited Quetta to pay their respects to the martyrs.

“It was a huge tragedy,” PTI chief Imran Khan told a press conference, calling for the military, police and civilian government to prevent further attacks.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif also visited Quetta and called for the attack’s culprits to face “exemplary” punishment.

Since all the three major terrorist attacks of this week targeted election events, caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk yesterday chaired a security meeting at the Governor House in Quetta.

Strongly condemning the terrorist hits in Mastung, Bannu and Peshawar, he directed the security institutions to take more effective measures for providing a secure environment for the elections.

He also urged all the stakeholders to exercise utmost precaution and take all possible measures to ensure security of the candidates and the public participating in political rallies and corner meetings.

The attacks on political meetings are all the more worrisome given the elections are just ten days away.

The death toll of Friday’s devastating bombing in Mastung had reached to 149 on Sunday, while several of the over 250 wounded were still critical.

Balochistan Chief Sectary Dr Nazir Akhtar said five of the victims were airlifted to Karachi’s Aga Khan Hospital through an Army C-130 plane in view of their critical condition.

The Sunday’s visits came hours after funeral prayers were offered for BAP leader Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, who was martyred in the suicide blast, in a ceremony attended by Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Raisani’s body was then driven from Quetta to his ancestral home of Kanak, near where he was killed, for a second set of funeral prayers tightly guarded by paramilitary forces.

He was laid to rest beside the grave of his son Akmal, who was killed in a grenade attack in 2011. Raisani’s father and other male relatives, killed in tribal warfare, are also all buried there.

One of the mourners in Kanak, Ali Ahmad, said “no house in the area” had been unaffected by the attack. “Every eye is tearful,” he told AFP.

Details of security meeting

The security meeting chaired by PM Nasirul Mulk was attended by Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai, Chief Minister Allauddin Marri, Home Minister Agha Umar Bangulzai, Federal Interior Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, Commander Southern Command Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa,

Balochistan Chief Secretary Dr Akhtar Nazir, Home Secretary Haider Ali Shikoh, IG FC Balochistan (North) Maj General Nadeem Anjum, IG FC Balochistan (South) Maj General Sardar Tariq Aman, IG Police Mohsin Hasan Butt and other senior civil and military officials were also present.

The meeting reviewed the overall law and order situation in the province in general and the situation in the wake of Mastung tragedy in particular.

Balochistan chief secretary shared details of the Mastung blast and the arrangements being made for peaceful and smooth conduct of the general elections in the province.

The prime minister stressed upon the need for taking political leadership on board about the security arrangements and to secure their cooperation in order to avoid any untoward incident.

He said an awareness campaign should be launched immediately, in coordination with all the stakeholders, to sensitise general public about the need to strictly adhere to the SOPs (standard operating procedures) of the security.

Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk appreciated the efforts of armed forces and civil administration for timely evacuation of the injured of the Mastung tragedy and saving precious lives.

PM’s visit to Raisanis and CMH

Earlier, the caretaker PM visited Sarawan House and offered condolences with the bereaved family of Shaheed Siraj Raisani, who was martyred in the Mastung suicide attack on Friday.

Siraj was a brother of former Balochistan chief minister Nawaz Aslam Raisani and a Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) candidate from PB-35 constituency. He was holding a public meeting when the bomb ripped through the crowd.

The prime minister also visited CMH Quetta to inquire after the injured of the tragedy and prayed for their swift recovery.

Senate Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, Balochistan Chief Minister Allauddin Marri and Federal Minister Roshan Khursheed Bharucha also accompanied him on these visits.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani also visited Sarawan House, where he condoled with the bereaved family of shaheed Siraj Raisani.



Shehbaz’s advice to Imran

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif also reached Quetta on Sunday and offered condolence for Siraj Raisani and others who were martyred in Mastung attack.

Speaking to the media later, he advised Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan to refrain from doing politics at the time the country is reeling from the Mastung tragedy.

He said that the entire nation is in mourning and the PTI chairman “should be ashamed for making allegations” at a wretched time.

“All the political parties are facing difficulties in election campaign, except for one, which has been given permission to continue with the campaign,” he said.

The PML-N president said that the country would face huge loss if the election procedure is made controversial. “Solution to all problems lies in fair and transparent elections,” he said.

Shehbaz said a truth commission should be formed on Mastung tragedy in order to investigate it for controlling such terrorist activities in future.

He said he supports the truth commission which was demanded by Nawabzada Haji Lashkari Raisani who was the elder brother of Shaheed Siraj Raisani.

The PML-N had suspended its political campaign and postponed Sunday’s public meeting in Swat due to the national mourning over terrorist attacks. The Swat jalsa would now be held on Monday (today) and addressed by Shehbaz Sharif.



Imran calls it a conspiracy

PTI chief Imran Khan has termed the Mastung suicide attack a conspiracy to delay the general election 2018.

Talking to media persons during his visit to Quetta, he said, “Country’s internal and external enemies were behind the Mastung tragic incident.”

“[But] we would not postpone the forthcoming elections since that is what the anti-state elements want,” he vowed.

Terming Raisani an asset to his party (BAP) and a diehard patriot, Imran said he realised the true scale of the Mastung tragedy after meeting the victim families.

Imran said the dithering on the National Action Plan after 2014 [during PML-N regime] was the reason for the continuation of terrorism in the country.

He also criticised the former rulers, holding them responsible for rampant corruption in the country. He also accused the PML-N government of rigging the 2013 general election.

The PTI chief reached Quetta earlier today to express solidarity with the families of Mastung victims.

Accompanied by PTI spokesperson Naeemul Haque and some other party members, he visited the CMH to inquire after the injured. He later also visited the Raisani family at their home to offer condolences.



UN chief, UNSC condemn terror attacks

Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres also has strongly condemned the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack in Mastung. In a statement, he expressed deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

The UN Security Council has also strongly condemned the “heinous” terrorist attacks in Pakistan. It reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.

The Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice.



Top politicians join day of mourning


Our staff reporter/Agencies