–Writes letter to commission, says current threats of serious nature from across the border, developments in North Waziristan may sabotage election in ex-FATA
ISLAMABAD: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has approached the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) with a request for the deferment of elections on provincial seats for 20 days in the newly-merged tribal areas of the province.
The elections were slated to be held on July 2 in ex-FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) areas, according to a May 6 notification of the ECP.
However, the KP government wants the commission to delay polls owing to “the current unwarranted situation and threats of [a] serious nature from across the border, and some developments within [the] newly merged districts [that] may sabotage the whole process of holding forthcoming elections”.
The letter written to the election commission lists “threats of terrorist activities from across the border/neighbouring Afghanistan with newly merged districts (NMDs); threat to political leadership of NMDs; post-merger issues of ex-Fata into KP; fresh developments in North Waziristan; change of command of Levies and Khasadar personnel from deputy commissioners to district police officers; Levies and Khassadars have not yet been trained to perform security duties in the absence of territorial and tribal responsibilities” for postponement of the polls.
“I am therefore directed to request you to postpone the provincial elections in NMDs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for 20 days to deal with [the] above mentioned reasons and making foolproof security and administrative arrangements for smooth, efficient and safe conduct of elections,” the letter concluded.
However, a prominent political leader, who is also vying for the election, questioned the decision to postpone the elections in the trouble-hit areas when electioneering was in full swing.
“The government’s plea to delay pools for 20 days on the excuse to make the pools foolproof security arrangement raised serious questions on the KP government’s intention of holding elections in the tribal districts,” he said, adding if the government couldn’t do anything in a year then what could it do in 20 days.
He said the motive for the postponement makes no sense as the security situation in the area improved drastically, barring and few incidents.
It may be noted here that the National Assembly last month passed 26th Constitution Amendment Bill seeking an increase in the number of seats for the erstwhile Fata in the NA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.
It was introduced by Mohsin Dawar, an independent lawmaker from the tribal areas, the bill increases the number of NA seats for ex-Fata representatives from six to 12, and KP Assembly seats from 16 to 24.
However, the bill wasn’t tabled in the Senate otherwise the polls would have been delayed for almost a year. So, it was decided the bill should be passed after the polls on 16 seats.