The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slammed “blatant, aggressive and unabashed” attempts to manipulate the upcoming election, as politicians expressed security fears following one of the country’s deadliest attacks.
A string of attacks has killed 175 people across the country in the past week.
The Election Commission has vowed to go ahead with the vote “at all costs”.
But the independent HRCP warned it was “gravely concerned over what it sees as blatant, aggressive and unabashed attempts to manipulate the outcome of the upcoming elections”.
“While it is critical that the polls are held as scheduled, there are now ample grounds to doubt their legitimacy -– with alarming implications for Pakistan’s transition to an effective democracy,” it said in a statement.
A suicide blast at a political rally in the southwestern province of Balochistan last Friday killed 149 people.
It was the second deadliest militant attack in Pakistan’s long battle with violent extremism, surpassed only by an assault on a school in 2014 which left more than 150 people dead.
“The attacks are taking place because the security agencies are involved in politics and not doing their job,” Mushahidullah Khan, a senior leader with the PML-N told AFP.
“The elections are being contested in an environment of fear,” the chairman of the PPP, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, said during a visit to the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta on Monday.
“Security should be the top priority for the government,” he said, adding: “I hope that the election will be held on July 25”.
Other politicians from parties across the political spectrum have echoed his concerns.
He and his party say they are being targeted by the military, which has also faced accusations from the media, analysts and other politicians that it is using threats and intimidation to steer votes towards Imran Khan’s PTI.
The military denies the allegations and says it is taking “no direct role” in the election.
It has already warned of a security threat in the run-up to the vote and said it will deploy more than 370,000 soldiers on polling day.