PESHAWAR: Of the 476 candidates who had filed their nomination papers for the upcoming provincial assembly polls in 16 constituencies of the newly-merged tribal areas, papers of 51 candidates were rejected on technical issues such as incomplete forms, bank default, incorrect statements or incorrect proposer and seconder.
This was observed by non-governmental organization Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) in a report on the elections in the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata) published on Wednesday.
The report stated that they were assessing and observing the political environment and implementation of election-related laws, rules and regulations in the polls.
Fafen said that returning officers (ROs) did not ask any undue or irrelevant or subjective questions for ascertaining the candidates’ eligibility. Further, Fafen said that ROs were observed to fulfil the minimum administrative legal-age and voter registration of the candidates vying to contest elections.
It added that most ROs, around 78%, did not seek assistance from other state authorities to verify or validate the information provided by the candidate on their nomination forms. However, ROs sought assistance in verifying information in 61 cases — including 52 from Kurram, seven from Orakzai, and two from North Waziristan.
Moreover, the report stated that of the 275 cases which Fafen observed, as many as 84 contesting candidates hold a Bachelor’s degree, while 73 candidates hold a Master’s degree. Further, 40 candidates only hold intermediate (FA, FSc) qualifications, while 23 candidates are matriculate. There were 10 candidates who stated they have not completed their matriculation.
On the professional side, most of the candidates in the newly merged district were observed to have listed some sort of business as their profession (business owner, shop owner, business investor, contractor, and real estate dealer)— 107 candidates.
Thereafter, 44 candidates identified themselves as professional politicians, political workers or activists. Another 42 identified themselves as agriculturists, 17 as engineers, 16 as educationists – religious scholars, teachers, four as legal practitioners, three as medical practitioners –doctors, homoeopathic, dermatologist, and one as a retired army officer.
Moreover, Fafen said that it had observed that 110 candidates had declared their Pakistani passports. Similarly, 117 observed candidates did not have the necessary asset details while 224 candidates did not provide their national tax numbers (NTN).
Fafen further claimed that it was completely barred from observing the scrutiny process in four constituencies including PK-103 Mohmand-I, PK-104 Mohmand-II, PK-114 South Waziristan-II and PK-115 ex-Frontier Regions. Observation was partially restricted in PK-108 Kurram-I, PK-109 Kurram-II, PK-111 North Waziristan-I and PK-112 North Waziristan-II.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2019.