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Gandhara

Candidate's Slaying Rings Alarm Bells In Restive Pakistani Region

Pakistani police and security officials collect evidence at the site of a bomb blast in Dera Allah Yar, in Balochistan Province, on March 22.
Pakistani police and security officials collect evidence at the site of a bomb blast in Dera Allah Yar, in Balochistan Province, on March 22.
The killing of a candidate in Pakistan's troubled southwestern Balochistan Province has provided a stark reminder of threats to the country's parliamentary elections on May 11.

Officials say unknown gunmen killed independent candidate Abdul Fatih and two relatives in the remote Jahl Magsi district on April 30.

Under a unique Pakistani election law, the killing triggers a postponement of the election in the constituency where Fatih was planning to run.

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Balochistan has been the scene in recent years of an increasingly bloody separatist insurgency that has seen thousands of separatists, soldiers, and civilians killed.

In the run-up to the elections, many politicians struggled with whether to participate or refrain from elections.

Some autonomy-minded leaders feared the Pakistani military, while others felt threatened by Baluch separatists who had vowed to target anyone taking part in the polls.

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Further killings of candidates in the vast but sparsely populated region could conceivably force postponement of the elections throughout the province. Despite making up about half of Pakistan's nearly 800,000 square kilometers of territory, Balochistan has just 14 seats in the popularly elected lower house, or National Assembly, of the parliament.

That makes elections in the province extremely vulnerable to disruption through violence.

Islamabad is deploying additional troops to thwart possible disturbances. On April 29, authorities sent additional army units to nine districts of the province considered high-risk due to a history of separatist violence.

-- Abubakar Siddique
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by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
May 01, 2013 13:39
Every day there are bombings and shootings in Pakistan, like the wild, wild West. Everyone knows the Taliban, gangs of fanatical muslim extremists are responsible for this mayhem, born out of the madrasas and fomented by the radical clerics, hiding their faces so they do not have to pay for their criminal acts.

About Gandhara

Gandhara is a blog dedicated to Afghanistan and Pakistan written by RFE/RL journalists from Radio Mashaal (Pakistan), Radio Azadi (Afghanistan), our Central Newsroom, and other services. Here, our people on the ground will provide context, analysis, and some opinions on news from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Send comments or questions to gandhara [at] rferl.org.