Updated Jul 31, 2023, 11:06am EDT
South Asia

Why an ultraconservative party rally was targeted in Pakistan

A general view of damaged property, following an explosion by a suicide bomber in Bajaur, Pakistan July 31, 2023 in this screen grab taken from a social media video. Bilal Yasir/via REUTERS
Bilal Yasir/via REUTERS

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The News

A suicide bombing at a political rally in northwest Pakistan on Sunday killed at least 45 people and left nearly 200 wounded.

Islamic militant group ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted supporters of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), an ultraconservative political party that forms part of the national coalition government.

We’ve collected key insights into the bombing and the concerns it has sparked ahead of November elections in Pakistan.

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  • The JUI-F poses a particular problem for Islamist militants, Pakistani daily newspaper Dawn wrote in an editorial. The party “seeks a path to Islamic rule through the ballot box, while the militants seek the same through ‘jihad’ and to rule by the sword,” it said. “In the past, attacking political gatherings has had a chilling effect on the political activities of targeted parties and eventually pushed some of them out of the picture.” — Dawn
  • Security in Pakistan has deteriorated since the Taliban took control of neighboring Afghanistan two years ago. Ayaz Amir, a former member of parliament, told journalists that there is a “terror campaign going on against Pakistan,” and that the threat is growing along its western border. Cross-border violence is on the rise, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province where Sunday’s attack took place. — Financial Times