ISLAMABAD: Major political parties from tribal regions have threatened to stage a sit-in in front of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on the third day of Eid if the commission does not take steps for holding polls for the provincial assembly seats of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along with the upcoming general elections.
The Mutahida Qabail Party (MQP) staged a protest demonstration on Wednesday to press the ECP to hold elections in provisional seats in the recently merged tribal areas at the same time as the rest of the country rather than delaying it for a year to avoid possible political uncertainty.
The protest demonstration was led by MQP Chairman Habib Malik Aurakzai, which was participated by representatives from Pakistan Thereek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Awami National Party (ANP) and representatives of the civil society.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Malik said that they staged the protest demonstration to ensure holding of elections in the tribal regions along with the other parts of the country.
He said that it would be quite easy to influence the elections in FATA after general elections, hence the elections on the provincial seats reserved for FATA should be held along with the general elections.
ECP held out the assurance that they would be given a response in this regard within two days, he said. However, Habib lamented that he has already written to the commission in this regard but received no response from the commission.
He warned that if the ECP could not give a response before Eid and steps were not taken for holding elections on the provincial seats on the same date, they would be left with no option but to hold a sit-in in front of ECP office on the third day of the Eid.
The MQP chairman vowed that the protest sit-in would continue till the acceptance of their demands.
Habib, in his letter to the chief election commissioner, stated that FATA has been a victim of negligence and the other draconian law FCR (1901). The law prevailed even after the creation of Pakistan. No political party activity was allowed in FATA, the status of FATA deprived the people of their representation in the provincial assembly and local bodies.
The letter reads, “Now that FATA has been merged with KP through the 31st amendment in constitution and territory has become at par with other provinces of Pakistan. It is necessary to provide people with their due right in legislatures both federal and provincial.”
“The date of general elections 2018 has been scheduled and will be held all over Pakistan in the month of July for both national and provincial seats. It shall be in the interest of the people of FATA that they also choose their representatives for provincial assembly as well,” he added.
However, in the general elections, the people of newly merged FATA will only choose their representatives for the National Assembly (NA) and for provincial assemblies in 2019. Such arrangements could affect the overall provincial system and the then sitting government, he said.
He said that the newly merged FATA region may also be included in upcoming general elections like other regions to choose their representatives for provincial assemblies. This step will also ensure impartial and unbiased elections of true representatives from the territory under neutral caretaker government.
It is pertinent to mention that former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and JI provincial chief Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan have also asked the ECP to hold polls for the provincial Assembly seats in FATA along with the upcoming general elections because the 21 seats allocated to the newly added areas would have definite impact on the complexion of the provincial assembly and hence for the elected government.