The run-up to the 2018 election, while marked by the usual pre-poll theatrics and power-plays, is further beset by the more subversive threat of militant violence which the establishment is yet unable to get a hold on. While the threat of coercion and violence puts innocent lives of electoral representatives and public at risk, the the dithering role of the establishment is further exacerbating an already divided political landscape.

The fatal suicide blast in Mastung, which while perpetrated by radical elements can be partly ascribed to an appalling lapse in security, putting the onus on the care-taker establishment and the ECP to reprioritize and augment its security blue-print for the remainder of the election season and ultimately for the safety of the public on polling day.

However, where the recent engagement of the state-military apparatus in the face of an imminent terrorist threat might lend a sense of air-tight protection and thus hold reasonable bearing, arming the electoral process has not visibly deterred militant attacks on electoral candidates in the wake of Mastung. In the past 12 days, there have been 4 attacks on electoral candidates by elements that seek to coerce and discourage an equitable election campaign.

It is no wonder that seasoned lawmakers and politicians like Raza Rabbani have seen fit to call out the establishment on not only its glaring negligence and obfuscation, but also of feigning ignorance of the mainstreamed extremist political outfits that have been fully sanctioned to contest the elections. The fact remains that the state cannot expect militant attacks to diminish on one end when it is legitimizing and sanctioning dogmatic ideologies through mainstreaming proscribed extremist parties on the other. Similarly, state protection is deserved right of all the electoral candidates in the face of pervading security threat and should be the mandate of the care-taker setup which it is obligated to exercise judiciously and effectively, rather than conflating institutional roles.