MIR ALI, Pakistan – The escalating violence in the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has claimed the lives of six people, as the region grapples with a surge in terrorism ahead of the upcoming countrywide elections. The victims, who were from Punjab and ran barber shops in the local bazaar, were abducted a day earlier and their bodies were found in a nearby area.
Mir Ali, located 12 kilometers east of Miran Shah and 40 kilometers west of Bannu, is situated in what was once the tribal region and is now part of Bannu Division. The area has seen a rise in terrorism acts, including attacks on military and police, as well as targeted killings. The region around Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan has been particularly hard hit.
The deteriorating security situation has posed a major challenge for political parties such as JUI-F, ANP, PML-N, and PPP, which have become targets of terrorist groups. JUI-F emir Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who was previously attacked near Dera Ismail Khan, has called for a postponement of the February 8 polls due to the poor law and order situation.
The ANP provincial chief, Aimal Wali Khan, along with Fazl, is reportedly facing serious threats, as they believe that the PTI clinched power in the province in 2013 and 2018 after others were not allowed to run election campaigns. This escalation in violence and its impact on the political landscape have raised concerns about the safety and security of the upcoming elections.
The surge in terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in the former tribal belt, is a cause for alarm as the country prepares for the much-awaited elections. The deteriorating law and order situation and the targeted attacks on political figures have cast a shadow over the democratic process. With just over a month left until the elections, the security challenges in the region continue to threaten the peaceful conduct of the electoral process.