PESHAWAR: In compliance with court orders, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has decided to set up polling stations for internally displaced persons (IDPs) at their respective camps.
The decision was taken during a meeting attended by the secretary of Home and Tribal Affairs Department, K-P inspector general of police, political agents of various tribal agencies and representatives of the election commission’s K-P chapter. The meeting was chaired by the K-P chief secretary.
Qamar Ali, a spokesman of the home department told The Express Tribune the decision had been taken in compliance with court orders, adding since only a few days were left till the elections, a meeting was held on Sunday in order to plan for the situation in advance.
“It has been decided IDPs will not be deprived of their basic right to vote, and polling stations will be set up at their respective camps to facilitate their ballots,” Ali said.
He explained polling stations will be established in Jalozai Camp and Hangu for those IDPS who migrated from Orakzai Agency. Stations in Tank and DI Khan, on the other hand, will enable displaced persons of South Waziristan to cast their vote, he said. Ali added a camp would also be set up in Shahkas area for the displaced persons of Khyber Agency.
Hundreds of thousands of tribesmen were displaced because of the ongoing clashes between various militant groups and security agencies. While some have temporarily settled with their relatives or in rented houses, most have been resigned to relocate to the miserable conditions of IDP camps with hopes of returning to their homes once peace is established in their areas.
However, this quest for peace was marred when militants began targeting them in settled areas amid election campaigns.
On Sunday, the election offices of independent tribal candidates for NA-39 and NA-46 came under attack in Kohat and Peshawar. In Kohat, at least four people were killed, while 22 others were injured when a bomb exploded near Mian Noor Akbar’s election office. Similarly, in another bomb blast near the election office of NA-46 candidate Haji Nasar Khan at Charsadda Road in Peshawar, two people were killed and another 20 were injured.
Supporters of tribal candidates for the National Assembly have set up election offices in various suburban areas of Peshawar and Kohat, where large numbers of IDPs have settled with their host families.
Sohbat Khan Afridi, the chairman of Tehreek-e-Mutasreen Bara, a representative body of IDPs from Khyber Agency, while condemning the attacks on tribal candidates claimed the persisting assaults were a failure on the part of the government to protect the lives of tribesmen.
However, Afridi rejected the notion that the blast on Charsadda Road was a targeted attack on campaigning tribesmen. He maintained the incident was part of a current wave of violence against election gatherings and political parties in general.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2013.
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