The likely delay in eIections in the newly-merged tribal districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwah (K-P) for the 24 provincial assembly seats might cause some disappointment to the residents of these districts. It was the first time that the people of erstwhile Federally-Administrative Tribal Areas (Fata) were to elect their representatives to the K-P provincial Assembly under the full-fledged adult franchise system. Now the K-P government has requested the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to postpone the elections for 20 days. The elections were to be held on July 2.
The ECP had issued a notification on May 6 announcing the schedule for elections in the 24 provincial assembly constituencies. A June 3 letter from the K-P Home and Tribal Affairs Department to the ECP has, however, sought a delay in the polls. The letter cited the current situation and threats of a serious nature from across the western border and some developments within the newly-merged tribal districts that may sabotage the whole process of holding the forthcoming elections.
An adviser to the K-P chief minister described the recent incidents of terrorism in the tribal areas, particularly North Waziristan, as a matter of concern and said that the purpose of seeking a delay in the polls was to ensure a peaceful atmosphere and level playing field to all candidates. The letter listed the following other reasons for a delay in the polls: threat to political leadership of the newly-merged tribal districts; post-merger issues of the ex-Fata with K-P; change of command of Levies and Khasadar personnel from deputy commissioners to district police officers; Levies and Khasadars have not yet been trained to perform security duties under the new dispensation.
The request for postponing the July 2 elections for 20 days lies within the constitutional limit of July 25. The letter says that in the 20 days the provincial government expects to overcome the above-mentioned issues.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2019.