A powerful blast occurred at a Sunni JUI-F party convention in the town of Khar, Pakistan, near the country’s border with Afghanistan. The explosion resulted in the death of over 40 people and left many others injured, according to local officials. Health Minister Riaz Anwar of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province confirmed that 44 people had died and over 100 were wounded. In response to the incident, a large deployment of police and the Pakistan Armed Forces were sent to the blast site, which has been cordoned off.
The blast took place during a JUI-F convention attended by more than 500 people. Witnesses reported a sudden and loud bang, causing chaos and panic among the attendees. One 24-year-old JUI-F supporter, Sabeeh Ullah, who was injured in the explosion, described the moment as they awaited the arrival of the central leadership.
Tragically, a local JUI-F Party leader lost his life in the blast. JUI-F is a religious conservative party that is part of the current government coalition in Pakistan. Provincial police inspector general Akhtar Hayat Khan confirmed that the blast was a result of a suicide attack, raising concerns over the nation’s security.
Health Minister Anwar also revealed that the incident was indeed a suicide attack, with the bomber detonating himself in close proximity to the stage where the central leadership was expected to arrive. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack and vowed to eliminate the perpetrators, referring to them as enemies of Pakistan.
This attack comes ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections in Pakistan, which are scheduled for either October or November. The nation’s parliament is set to dissolve in the coming weeks, and political parties were preparing for the election campaign.
As of Sunday evening, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, according to Pakistani media, a local Islamic State cell had previously targeted the JUI-F party due to its perceived hypocrisy over supporting the Pakistani authorities. Pakistan has experienced a surge in terrorist activities, with a June report from the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies highlighting an alarming increase in terror and suicide attacks during the first six months of 2023. These attacks have resulted in the deaths of nearly 400 people.
One of the most high-profile attacks prior to this incident occurred when a suicide bomber targeted a mosque inside a police compound in the city of Peshawar, killing over 80 police officers.
The authorities are now faced with the urgent task of ensuring the safety and security of the Pakistani population, particularly as the elections draw near. The government must take necessary steps to prevent further acts of terrorism and bring the perpetrators to justice. The international community should also stand in solidarity with Pakistan and provide assistance in combating terrorism. Only through collective efforts can Pakistan overcome the threat of terrorism and establish a peaceful and stable society.