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Political risk in Pakistan severe, rights group says

April 29, 2013 at 2:11 PM

ISLAMABAD, April 29 (UPI) -- Pakistani leaders should consider deploying military force to ensure May 11 elections take place in a secure atmosphere, Human Rights Watch said.

Pakistan is to have parliamentary elections May 11. Human Rights Watch blamed the Taliban and other militant groups in Pakistan for more than 20 attacks that left 46 people dead and more than 190 injured since campaigning began April 21.

Human Rights Watch Director of Pakistani programs Ali Dayan Hasan said the nation's political system is at risk unless the government, elections official and security forces can ensure politicians and voters can take part in the process safely.

"Pakistan's interim government should use law enforcement agencies and, if essential, the army, to provide as much protection as possible to candidates and political parties from Taliban attacks," he said in a statement.

The Pakistani Taliban last month described the election process as "un-Islamic." The group Sunday said it would target "secular political parties" vying for seats in the Pakistani Parliament.

The Taliban took responsibility for the Sunday bombing near an election office near Peshawar. That attack left eight people dead and 29 others injured, CNN reported.

Pakistan's election season was complicated further when a court in Rawalpindi placed former military leader and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf under arrest on charges related to the 2007 assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. He had planned to run in the election.

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