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Former-FATA elections.

Creating hurdles for the opposition

Although the historic decision to merge FATA, a region torn apart by years of conflict, with KP, took its time; the legislation (26th Constitutional Amendment) to achieve it sailed through Parliament in a rare show of consensus between the opposition and government. Now that it is time for the people of former-FATA to choose their representatives in KP's provincial assembly, unnecessary hurdles that make little sense are being placed to ensure a certain kind of election result. Earlier this month the KP government asked the ECP to extend the July 2nd election date by 20 days due to the 'unwarranted threats of a serious nature from across the border'. Those threats have reduced significantly with minor incidents taking place with less frequency than before. It must also be understood that cross-border threats, however minimal, will remain even after 20 days. Clearly the concern here is not security, rather who is in a better position to succeed in the elections at the moment.

Another manifestation of the same hurdles being created is the arrest of two independent candidates from South Waziristan on frivolous grounds. The arrests, as rightly noted by the ECP in its summons to the Home and Tribal Affairs Secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, are a clear obstruction of the election campaign. The Secretary avoided appearing before the Commission and the candidates remain under arrest despite an ECP notification asking they be released. Several other candidates have reported that their offices are being raided and their workers being threatened with arrest to discourage them from openly campaigning. Section 144 has also been imposed in North and South Waziristan resulting in a blanket ban on public meetings, let alone campaign rallies, as under the restrictions no more than four people can gather at one place at a time. Around 35 million Pashtuns will go to the polls for 16 seats in the KP assembly, but as things stand it is unlikely that their vote is going to count.

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Publication:Pakistan Today (Lahore, Pakistan)
Date:Jul 2, 2019
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