As Pakistan gears up to conduct general elections tomorrow (Thursday), at least 28 people were killed and over 40 others injured Wednesday in two separate blasts targeting election candidates in Balochistan.
The first assault killed at least 15 people and injured over 30 others following a blast outside an independent candidate's office in Balochistan's Pishin, while the second explosion occurred outside the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) office in Killa Saifullah.
The Pishin blast occurred near the political office of independent candidate Asfand Yar Khan Kakar in Pishin's Khanozai area. Kakar is contesting general elections for the NA-265 constituency as well as the Balochistan Assembly constituencies PB-47 and PB-48.
The injured have been shifted to Tehsil Hospital Khanozai. Medical authorities stated that the majority of the injured are in critical condition.
Following the explosion, an emergency has been declared at all Quetta hospitals, with additional staff summoned, according to the provincial health secretary.
He further stated that operation theaters and staff are ready to treat injured people at the Trauma Center, Civil Hospital, BMC, Benazir, and Sheikh Zayed Hospitals.
The independent candidate was not present in his office when the explosion struck at PP-47 in Pishin.
On January 30, four people were killed and six were wounded in a bomb blast at a PTI rally in Balochistan’s Sibi.
On January 31, unidentified assailants gunned down a PTI-backed independent candidate for the national and provincial assembly from Bajaur, Rehan Zeb Khan, when the politician was engaged in a campaign in the Sadiqabad area.
The attackers opened fire on Rehan while he was campaigning ahead of the general elections scheduled to be held on February 8, 2024. He was rushed to AHQ Hospital in a critical condition, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Meanwhile, Balochistan Caretaker Information Minister Jan Achakzai said that the explosive material was placed in a motorcycle, based on early evidence. "Further investigation is underway," he added.
The minister vowed that peaceful elections will take place in Balochistan tomorrow. "Tomorrow, the people of Balochistan will come out; they will destroy the ambitions of terrorists," he stated.
While addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Caretaker Interior Minister Dr. Gohar Ejaz said that the government plans to provide security in three tiers. "The commandos will be deployed in Balochistan to respond in the shortest possible time," he stated.
"Police, civil armed forces, and the army will protect you. We will not allow anyone to question Pakistan's integrity or independence," he added.
Ejaz said there are 90,777 polling stations around the country, with over 40,000 declared normal. Meanwhile, 20,985 voting locations have been designated as sensitive, with 16,766 identified as the most sensitive.
He stated that at least seven to eight law enforcement officers will be stationed at each polling station across the country and that over 137,000 law enforcement personnel have been deployed across the country.
"Pakistan Army troops will be deployed as a quick reaction force (QRF)," Ejaz told journalists.
On the other hand, Rashid Chaudhry, National Coordinator for the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), stated on Wednesday that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is using technology to improve the country's upcoming general election process in 2024, as well as to ensure quick election results.