The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has requested the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to postpone for 20 days the first-ever provincial assembly elections which were to be held in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) on July 2.
The ECP had issued a notification on May 6 announcing the schedule for the provincial assembly elections. A June 3 letter from the KP Home and Tribal Affairs Department to the ECP, however, sought a delay in polls.
The letter cited “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.”
Adviser to the KP chief minister Ajmal Wazir described recent incidents of terrorism in the tribal areas, particularly North Waziristan, as a matter of concern, and said that the purpose of seeking a delay in polls was to ensure a peaceful environment and level playing field to all candidates.
The following reasons were listed in the letter as the basis for the delay in polls:
- 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
As per the request, postponing the July 2 polls for 20 days lies within the constitutional limit of July 25.
“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, signed by a section officer in the department, concluded.