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Taliban threat looms large over Pakistan polls

Taliban threat looms large over Pakistan polls
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Peshawar (Agencies): Moderate politicians from some of Pakistan's most violent areas are risking the threat of Taliban attack to run in upcoming...

Peshawar (Agencies): Moderate politicians from some of Pakistan's most violent areas are risking the threat of Taliban attack to run in upcoming nationwide elections, but they are increasingly being forced to rely on social media, phone calls and even short documentaries that allow them to campaign at a distance. That could give hard-line Islamic candidates and Taliban supporters an advantage as they're able to stump for votes and hold large public rallies that are a traditional hallmark ofelections in the country but are extremely vulnerable to attacks.

One of the most serious attacks occurred on April 16, when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a meeting of the secular Awami National Party in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing 16 people. The Taliban said the target of the attack was Haroon Ahmad Bilour, whose father, a senior party leader, was killed in a suicide bombing in Peshawar in December.

He escaped unscathed, but his uncle, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, suffered minor injuries. As he was being treated at the hospital, the uncle vowed that he and other party candidates would not withdraw from the election despite the death threats. With his trousers soaked in blood, he walked among the hospital beds to comfort crying victims and told them, "We are fighting a war for Pakistan's survival."

Faced with the Taliban threat, parties have had to get more creative in their campaigning for the May 11 vote. Members of the Awami National Party and other secular political parties specifically targeted by the Pakistani Taliban have stepped up their use of Facebook andTwitter as well as phone calls and advertisements. Analysts and secular party candidates fear that the danger could skew election results in favor of hard-line Islamic parties and others who refuse to speak out strongly against the Taliban.

Musharraf to be tried for Benazir assassination

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Islamabad (IANS): A Pakistani anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of suspects charged with involvement in the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, on Tuesday ordered that former President Pervez Musharraf be included in the investigation process.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which is investigating the Bhutto assassination, told the court in the garrison city of Rawalpindi that the former military ruler has not yet been formally included in the case, reported Xinhua. Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman directed the FIA to complete the investigation and submit a report in the apex court.

The hearing was adjourned until May 3. He has been accused of failing to provide adequate security to Bhutto when she returned to Pakistan from exile in 2007. She was killed in a suicide bombing and firing in Rawalpindi shortly after she addressed an election rally. The court had previously declared Musharraf an "absconder" and issued an arrest warrant for him after he failed to cooperate with investigators when he was living in self-exile. He returned last month and also got an interim bail in the case. The court will hear his bail in this case on Wednesday.

He dismissed all charges as politically motivated and insisted that he had warned Benazir Bhutto of imminent threats to her life. He also said that he had advised her not to return to the country in view of threats, but she had ignored his advice.

Pak court lists out scribes paid secretly

Islamabad (IANS): Pakistan's apex court has released a list of journalists who were allegedly paid by the information ministry through a secret fund, a media report said.

The court released the names during the hearing of petitions by two private television channel anchors who had requested the court to probe the matter of media accountability and payments made to journalists by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government in 2011-12.A The Supreme Court Monday made public the list of journalists and media personnel, reported Dawn.

Court clears former PM Raja Pervez tali3Islamabad (Agencies): A Pakistani court has ruled that former PM and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader Raja Pervez Ashraf can run as a candidate in parliamentary election. The Lahore High Court has accepted his appeal against the verdict of an election tribunal and a returning officer which had declared him ineligible to contest the elections. On April 15, the tribunal disqualified Ashraf from running for aNational Assembly seat from his native Gojar Khan district in central Punjab province over corruption allegations.

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