Pakistanis mourning victims of carnage ahead of elections

The case relates to a march staged by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on July 13 when Sharif returned to Pakistan to be arrested on a corruption conviction, which defied a ban on holding public rallies on a Friday.

The arrest of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at Lahore airport Friday has triggered a war of words between the Congress and the BJP, with both the parties taking to social networking sites to attack each other.

One week ago, Sharif was sentenced in abstentia to 10 years in prison on corruption charges. But analysts have long warned that Pakistan is not getting to the root causes of extremism, and that militants retain the ability to carry out spectacular attacks like the blast in Mastung.

Funerals were held Saturday (local time) in southwestern Baluchistan for the 128 people who were killed in a targeted suicide bomb attack at an election rally for provincial candidate Siraj Raisani, who also died. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the blast.

The News in its editorial said that as the death toll continued to go up, people watched in horror at the violence that has suddenly become a daily nightmare.

"It has never been more true that Pakistan's security establishment needs to focus on security, not politics", tweeted analyst Mosharraf Zaidi as mourners gathered to bury their dead in Mastung on Saturday.

Almost 130 people were killed and 20 people were critically injured in the deadly attack. He also used the opportunity again to criticize Pakistan's powerful military, which has ruled the country directly or indirectly for most of its 71-year history, saying Pakistan now has a "state above the state". Sharif, who was ousted by the Supreme Court previous year and convicted in absentia of corruption a week ago, arrived in the country to rally his party ahead of the general elections. He lost two relatives in the attack, he said. "Some people are calling Congress 'bail gaadi, ' not bullock cart, because some of its top leaders and former ministers are out on bail", Modi said at an election rally in Rajasthan. Akram Khan Durrani of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal escaped a blast in northern Bannu on Friday. Sharif's brother, Shahbaz, has taken over the leadership of the party and is shepherding it through the election campaign.

A string of violent attacks at political rallies, killing almost 160 people this week, has the nation on edge about security for the upcoming national elections, with some political leaders blaming the Pakistani government for not doing enough to protect the electoral process.

At least 20 of the injured among over 200 people are reported to be in critical condition, the Express Tribune reported.

  • Tracy Klein