As the Election Day nears, the growing boldness of the TTP terrorists in striking at will is becoming the talk of the town. By bombing an MQM election camp in Karachi on Thursday, only two days after they had struck at another office of the same party, they have registered the point that they are committed to sabotaging the election process. The death count on Tuesday was four, while on Thursday it was five. At another end in the troubled province of Balochistan, they hit the office of a PPP candidate on Thursday leaving one dead. In fact, the number of casualties the attacks cause is not significant from the militants’ point of view; all they want is to create scare among the people that going to the polling booths is not without risk. To promote this idea, they have also distributed pamphlets in some cities like Peshawar and Karachi warning the people against participating in the elections. That is why in every day conversations, TV talk shows or newspaper comments, the discussion ends up invariably with concern about the security of the candidates as well as the voters. There is the compelling fear that in so many people getting together at specific spots, the militants might find easy targets. There is also the nagging feeling that the country’s security agencies do not seem to be fully prepared for the task. No doubt, it is hard to forestall acts of violence when the shadowy breed of militants is committing them; and even powerful states are at their wit’s end about how to deal with this relatively new phenomenon.

The caretaker government, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Supreme Court – the three key institutions concerned with the process – are firmly of the view that there ought not to be a day’s delay. A confusing factor, however, is the virtually lacklustre election campaign one witnesses these days. The MQM, the PPP and the APP, listed as militants’ targets, are staying away from holding rallies that are the signs of strength of a party. There are reports PPP Chairman Bilawal is not in Pakistan and has flown to Dubai, though earlier, it was given out that he would lead the campaign. On top of that, party leader Amin Fahim says that the PPP is not doing the campaigning the traditional way because it does not want to put the workers’ lives at risk. For the elections to take place on schedule, as specifically stated in the constitution, is a vital necessity to give continuity to democratic system. Therefore, the security setup has to work on a war footing to ensure the conduct of timely elections in a peaceful atmosphere.