Pakistan election sees assassinations, spying and drug busts

Pakistan election sees assassinations, spying and drug busts
Next week's election in Pakistan is all set with a colourful cast, high drama and politically charged espionage.
2 min read
22 July, 2018
PML-N supporters have been out in force [Getty]
A colourful line-up for next week's Pakistan election is all set, with talk of the country's powerful intelligence services dominating the election and a reemergence of political violence overshadowing voting.

Sunday saw a claim by a judge that the country's intelligence community were influencing judicial rulings in Pakistan with the high court reviewing the case days before elections are due to take place on 25 July.

Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui alleged that the country's notorious Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) were interfering in legal cases.

"The ISI is fully involved in trying to manipulate the judicial proceedings," he said, according to agencies.

"ISI people get their choice of benches formed in the courts, cases are marked," he told lawyers in the military stronghold, Rawalpindi.

The military asked the supreme court to look into Siddiqui's allegations. 

"In order to safeguard the sanctity and credibility of the state institutions, Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan has been requested to initiate appropriate process to ascertain the veracity of the allegations and take actions accordingly," a statement from the military read.

It follows the arrest of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, on their return to Pakistan, following allegations of corruption.

Supporters of Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party insist the accusations of graft are politically-charged, and the country's powerful military have been accused of interfering in the political process yet again.

Siddiqui, too, has been investigated for alleged misconduct, although he strongly denies the claims.

His outburst follows the sentencing of a leading PML-N figure to life in jail by an anti-narcotics court late Saturday night.

Hanif Abbasi was accused of supplying the drug ephedrine to a smuggler six years ago, with the ISI once-again accused of interfering in the case.

The PML-N is now run by Shahbaz Sharif - Nawaz's brother - and set for a tight race against former cricketer Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

An election candidate for PTI and his driver were killed by a Pakistan Taliban suicide bomber in the northwest of the country on Sunday.

Another suicide blast in the southwestern province of Balochistan on 13 July killed 149 people, one of the bloodiest ever terror attacks to take place in Pakistan.

Violence in Pakistan has lessened in recent years, following military operations in tribal areas, but political, ethnic and religious fault lines still run deep.