After the brutal onslaught last week on Haroon Bilour, violence continues to threaten Pakistan’s elections with the occurrence of two more attacks. This brings the total number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan to five in this month alone. On July 3rd, 10 people were injured when a grenade was thrown into a crowd outside of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) new office. Four days later Shireen Malik, a Pakistani politician, was targeted with a bomb mounted on a motorcycle in an attack that injured him and six other people.
More recently, on July 13th, a suicide bomber attacked an election rally of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), killing 149 people and wounding another 189. It was the third deadliest terrorist attack in the country’s history. The blast, the responsibility for which was claimed by ISIS, killed BAP candidate Siraj Raisani who was running for a seat in Pakistan’s provincial assembly.
Lastly, in the early morning hours of July 16th, former ANP senator Dawood Achakzai was injured in a gun attack while he was sleeping in a guest house. The motivation behind the attack is still under investigation and no group has yet claimed responsibility.
Meanwhile, complaints about the care-taker government abound. Members of the Pakistani Senate accuse National Security Committee (NSC) authorities of ignoring security concerns regarding the safety of politicians and citizens during Monday’s senate session, noting that Pakistan’s National Security Committee has failed to discuss security concerns leading up to the election in recent meetings. Furthermore Interior minister did not appear at the senate session to discuss what the care-taker government was doing to fight the violence surrounding the lead-up to the election.
While two of these attacks are still under investigation, it is clear that each of these attacks targeted political candidates or former senior politicians. Reports out of Pakistan also make clear the overall objective of these attacks: to destabilize and ultimately destroy the Pakistani government.
Two of the destructive and active terrorist organizations within Pakistan are the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and ISIS. TTP and ISIS are competitors as can be observed in their slight ideological disagreements, and their fight over recruits and territory. However, they do share a common desire to see the Pakistani government collapse and be replaced with their own form of governance. While it may not be possible for the Pakistani Taliban or ISIS to take control of the government, they could wear down the country to a point where citizens are apathetic to democratic resolutions. Pakistan does have political parties that advocate extremist positions and even violence, like the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party (TLP). If the Pakistani people become desperate enough for a resolution then they may eventually gravitate towards groups like the TLP in an effort to resolve their issues.
It is not in the interests of the United States to have Pakistan collapse into the hands of terrorists. The United States will monitor the situation to ensure this election does not fail and lead to a government collapse of the government. If stability in Pakistan is to be achieved by the care-taker government, efforts to bolster security and eliminate threats to Pakistan’s democratic government should be made in earnest.