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July 12, 2018

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July 2018 elections are already soaked in blood

LAHORE: Quite similar to the run-ups to the February 18, 2008 and May 11, 2013 general elections in Pakistan, the forthcoming July 25, 2018 ballot exercise also appears to have been soaked in blood already with the killing of ANP stalwart, Barrister Haroon Bilour and around 20 others in a suicide attack in Peshawar on Tuesday.

Pakistan's two-time former Premier, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi, just 12 days before the January 8, 2018 elections, which were hence postponed till February 18 of the same year.

The delay came amid unrest following the assassination of Benazir. The CNN had reported: "Pakistan's government described colossal devastation to the country's infrastructure after looters burned more than 150 train cars and wiped out telecommunications lines along the north-south railways, preventing goods and services from getting to all parts of Pakistan. Rampaging demonstrators ransacked banks, police stations, and factories."

Earlier on October 18, 2007, Benazir had escaped unscratched following an assault on her motorcade in Karachi. This incident had resulted in 139 deaths.

On February 4, 2008, at least 10 people were killed and 27 others injured, when a suicide bomber had crashed his bike into an armed forces bus carrying students and officials of Army Medical College, near the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. This became the Eleventh attack on Pakistan Army, fourth in Rawalpindi near GHQ, and first of its kind on medical students.

On February 9, 2008, some 25 people died and 35 injured after a powerful explosion had hit an opposition election rally in Charsadda. The attack had targeted the Awami National Party (ANP), one of whose leaders, Fazal-ur-Rehman Atakhail, was assassinated on February 7 of the same year in Karachi.

On February 11, 2008, a suicide attack on a public meeting in Miranshah, North Waziristan, had left at least eight people dead and a dozen wounded, including an ANP candidate for the National Assembly. It was the second attack on ANP's election gathering in two days.

On February 16, 2008, a suicide bomber had rammed his explosive-laden vehicle on an election meeting of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), at Parachinar city in Kurram Agency. The attack had left at least 47 people dead and 150 injured, according to Interior Ministry of Pakistan.

It was the fourth such attack on PPP's political workers within a year; two of them targeting the former PPP leader Benazir Bhutto. On February 18, 2008, the Election Day, at least 24 people were killed and nearly 200 were injured in election-related violence across the country.

After the 2008 ballot exercise, a roadside killed at least 13 members of a wedding party and left about a dozen injured on February 22. An army spokesman said the bomb had been detonated by remote control. Women and children were among the casualties.

On February 25, 2008, Pakistan Army's top medic, Lt General Mushtaq Baig, was killed, along with the driver and security guard, when a suicide attack had ripped apart the vehicle he was travelling in near Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. At least five other passersby were also killed and 20 injured in the incident. Gen Baig remains the highest-ranking officer to be killed in Pakistan since the 9/11 attacks. This attack was the twelfth such incidence against the Army and fifth one near GHQ.

On February 29, 2008, as many as 38 people were killed and 75 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in Mingora, Swat District during the funeral of a senior police officer who had been killed hours earlier in Lakki Marwat. The police DSP was killed along with three other policemen when their vehicle was hit in a roadside bomb earlier in the day.

On March 2, 2008, at least 42 people were killed and 58 injured in a suicide attack, when the bomber struck the meeting of tribal elders and local officials in the town of Darra Adam Khel near Peshawar.

On March 4, 2008, eight persons were killed and 24 others injured when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the parking area of the Pakistan Navy War College in Lahore. It was the first time a Pakistani naval institution was targeted by the militants, though till that date, Pakistan Army had been targeted at least eight times outside the war zone and Air Force twice since the 9/11 episode.

On March 11, 2008, not fewer than 24 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in twin suicide bombings in Lahore. While one of the attacks ripped apart FIA building killing 21, including 16 policemen, the other had hit the posh locality of Model Town, close to Bilawal House, associated with PPP leaders Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Zardari.

Terrorism haunting the run-up top the May 11, 2013 elections and a few days after the ballot exercise:

On February 15, 2013, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti had escaped unhurt in a suicide attack in his hometown of Mardan. The chief minister was on one of his frequent pre-election visits to Mardan and was on his way to address a public meeting.

Although public meetings of the ruling ANP, attended by Chief Minister Ameeer Haider Hoti, were attacked in Nowshera and Charsadda during 2012, but this was the first time that he was the direct target of a suicide bombing.

On April 16, 2013, less than a month before the May 2013 elections, President of the PML-N Balochistan chapter Sardar Sanaullah Zehri’s convoy was targeted by a bomb blast in his area of Zehri as he was returning from an election campaign from a nearby locality.

Although Sanaullah Zehri had escaped unhurt, his son Sikander Zehri, brother Mir Mehar and nephew Mir Zaid were reported dead in the incident.

An improvised explosive device went off as Zehri, leading a convoy of more than 20 vehicles, had left his home to campaign in Khuzdar.

Terrorism in Karachi between On April 25, 2013 and April 27 of the same year: Some 26 people had lost lives in a tally of five terrorist attacks in as many days in Karachi. These included an incident where a PPP corner meeting was attacked, killing at least three people, including a woman.

The PPP candidate for PS-111, Adnan Baloch was among the injured. Earlier, at least two people were killed and more than 25 were injured in two separate blasts near MQM's election office in the city’s Orangi Town area.

On April 29, 2013, authorities said a suicide bomber targeting policemen has killed eight people in Peshawar.

On May 4, 2013, three people were killed by two blasts near the offices of MQM in Karachi.

On May 6, 2013, a suicide bomber had targeted an election rally organized by the Jamiat Ulema-e- Islam, Fazlur Rehman group in Peshawar, killing 25 people & wounding 65. On May 7, 2013, a suicide bomber had killed at least nine people and wounded a candidate campaigning in Hangu city.

On May 8, 2013, a suicide car bomber had killed two people and wounded at least 23 people in Khyber Pakhtoonkwa.

Authorities said an explosives-laden car had struck a police station in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

On May 11, the Election Day, a bomb attack in Karachi had targeted the offices of ANP, killing 10 people and wounding more than 30.

Local media had also reported gunfire in the city, underlining the range of risks faced by the country's 86 million voters.

The same day, a roadside bomb in Karachi also killed one person riding in a bus of ANP supporters.

In Peshawar, a bomb outside a polling station had killed one person while two more died when a bomb went off near a police van.

In Balochistan, gunmen had killed two people outside a polling station in the town of Sorab and a shootout between supporters of two candidates in the town of Chaman had resulted in six deaths.

This violence had actually followed a string of bombings and shootings by the Taliban, which had marred the run-up to the elections and claimed the lives of more than 130 people across Pakistan.

A day after the May 11, 2013 general elections, at least six people were killed and 45 got injured in a suicide car attack on Balochistan province’s police chief house in Quetta.

On May 17, 2013, blasts targeting two mosques in northwestern Pakistan had left 15 people dead and others injured.

The incidents had occurred in the village of Baz Dera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province's Malakand district.

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