Unofficial initial results started to pour in soon after polling in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) newly merged tribal districts concluded peacefully on Saturday.
Residents exercised their right to vote for the first time to elect representatives with 16 general seats of the provincial assembly up for grabs.
K-P Governor Shah Farman congratulated locals over successful holding of the first-ever elections in the merged tribal districts.
In a statement issued after conclusion of the voting, the governor said that the last phase of Fata merger has been completed today. “Now the new era of progress and development would begin in the merged areas… this is a historic day which will guarantee socio-economic development of the tribal people,” he added.
Governor Farman lauded the tribal people for demonstrating political maturity throughout the election process. “The entire credit for peaceful conduct of the election goes to the Pakistan Army,” he said, adding that the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan succeeded in the elections.
Voters in PK-112 Bannu began polling amid tight security arrangements at the Government Degree College-II. Three polling stations were set up in the college to facilitate 10,000 voters.
Polling was also held in two constituencies of the Kurram district in Parachinar.
The Sikh community cast votes in Peshawar, Orakzai and Khyber districts. Over 300 Sikh voters from Peshawar and Hasan Abdal took part in the balloting.
A total of 2.8 million voters from the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) took part in the first polls after being merged with Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa (K-P) province in line with the 25th constitutional amendment passed by parliament last year. Earlier, the residents of Fata were only allowed to take part in the country’s lower house polls.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), a total of 285 candidates, including two women, are competing for the 16 provincial assembly seats.
In the hotly-contested polls, candidates from all political parties, including the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), Awami National Party (ANP) are competing for 16 provincial assembly seats.
Interestingly, while all major opposition parties are at loggerheads with the PTI-led government in the centre, they have opted for individual campaigns in these elections.
According to the ECP, the ruling PTI fielded 16 candidates in the race, JUI-Fazl (JUI-F) 15, ANP 14, PPP 13, JI 13, PML-N 5, QWP 3 JUI-Sami (JUI-S) 2, PSPK 2, while 202 are running as independents.
People across the newly-merged tribal districts unanimously agree on the historic value of today’s elections.
Of the 2.8 million voters, 1.67 million men and 1.13 million women, are eligible to vote to elect their representatives for the provincial assembly. The voting took place under tight security at 1,896 polling stations, of which 482 are for men, 376 for women, and 1,038 are combined.
In addition to 16 seats, there are five reserved seats – four for women and 1 for minorities – which will be filled in line with the number of votes each party attains in the general polls.
Bajaur district consists of the largest number of voters which is 534,003 followed by Khyber district, which has 532,087 voters. Three seats each have been allocated for the two districts.
The election commission gave district returning officer (DRO) and returning officers (RO), the authority of magistrate under which, they were able to take actions against violators of the code of law.
According to the notification issued by the poll body, the district returning officers (DRO) and returning officers (RO) under Election Commission Act 2017 were given the authority of a first-level magistrate. They will enjoy the authority until the announcement of the results.