LAHORE: In the wake of last night’s deadly attack on an election gathering in Mastung, which has left at least 128 people dead, including Balochistan Awami Party candidate Siraj Raisani, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious concern over the emerging pattern of violence accompanying the run-up to the elections on 25 July.
In a statement issued today, HRCP has said: ‘The numbing scale of yesterday’s attack in Mastung – now the third time an election gathering or political candidate has been targeted in three days – means asking some hard questions, not only of the civilian government, but also its security apparatus. Despite the excessive presence of security forces in Balochistan, the capacity of militants to strike on this scale appears to be intact.
‘It is critical that the upcoming elections are held on time, but the Commission reiterates the need for – and the right of – political candidates to be provided adequate security on the campaign trail. Election gatherings must not become killing fields. HRCP expresses its deepest condolences with the families of all those killed in Mastung and Bannu.
‘The Commission is also perturbed at the extent to which the attack in Mastung has been overshadowed by parallel political developments in Punjab. The right to assembly and security of person are universal and must be applied as such. We strongly urge the authorities to make every effort to ensure that the little time left for the polls remains peaceful and free of undue influence across the country.’