History is made
Another major milestone has been achieved towards the merger of tribal districts in Khyber Pakhtukhwa province. As per the law which approved the merger in May last year, the elections for the provincial assembly were to be held within a specified timeframe. The Election Commission of Pakistan in spite of many pressures and difficulties including those of law and order managed to hold the elections.
The latest results, although unofficial, by the ECP show that independents are leading with seven seats, the ruling PTI secured five, JUI-F two seats and JI and ANP have bagged one seat each.
Although the turnout is yet to be calculated, of a total of 2.8 million (1.67 million men and 1.13 million women) registered voters, a huge number including women showed great interest in the polls and fulfilled their constitutional responsibility by voting for 16 provincial assembly seats that were allocated to eight districts of erstwhile Fata.
The people of the area administered until last year under the Frontier Constabulary Rule are now constitutionally part of Pakistan like any other settled area and there is no longer any un-administered area west of Peshawar. That narrow strip that acted as a buffer zone between the then NWFP and Afghanistan in the north western region is formally part of the land of Pakistan. In administrative terms, the police and district admin are now thoroughly populated; they are being trained and posted accordingly. Buildings for police stations and district offices have been procured too. On the judicial front, the writ of the constitutional courts has been extended to the area as the district and sessions courts hear the day to day cases there.
All the political parties took interest in the elections by fielding as many candidates as was possible for them. The PTI topped the list as it fielded candidates on all the 16 general seats followed by the JUI-F on 15, the ANP on 14, the PPP and the JI on 13 seats each. The PML-N and the Qaumi Watan Party contested on five and three seats respectively. Many independents were also part of the process.
The Pakistan Peoples Party had expressed its reservations over the deployment of security forces inside the polling stations. As for the transmission of results, the commission was already apprehensive of the RTS which had suddenly collapsed during the 2018 general elections. It has also prior to the polling day warned of patchy ‘network’, hence there was some delay in the announcement of the results.
The peaceful election in the thus far troubled region is a great step forward. The people who have remained displaced for the most part of the last decade due to war on terror that was mainly fought in the region must heave a sigh of relief as they see their elected representative enter the KP Assembly building for the first time. Yet this is not the end of it, the area and its people would still need handholding.