PESHAWAR: Preparations for first ever KP Assembly polls in merged districts originally scheduled to be held on July 02 were underway since last few months, but now the Election Commission has rescheduled the polls on July 20 on the application of KP government.

The KP government had written in its letter to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that law and order problems are expected in tribal districts in the July 02 elections and efforts are also being made to disturb the situation from across the border. The KP government had also pointed out law and order issues in Waziristan, inexperience of Levies and Khassadars and complexities in merger process after which the Election Commission postponed elections for 18 days.

Election candidates and general public have mixed views about delay in elections.

Ilyas Orakzai, independent candidate from PK-110, Orakzai, says candidates and voters were excited about the polls, but they are now sceptical after delay in elections.

He says: “Tribal people were enthusiastic about the July 02 elections and it had brought smile on their faces as they thought that their sense of deprivation will be addressed and their representatives will raise voice for their rights in the provincial assembly. However, the provincial government used different tactics to delay the polls to July 20. Now the people and candidates have apprehensions that polls may be delayed further to August-September or even December. Future of our generations is linked to elections in tribal districts.”

Zubair Khan, PTI candidate from Bara, Khyber district, says delay in polls is beneficial in some aspects, but its disadvantages cannot be ignored.

The PTI candidate says: “Delay in elections has its benefits and drawbacks. Benefit comes in shape of more time for candidates for their election campaign. Previously the candidate could only have time to cover about 60-70 percent areas of their constituencies. My own constituency is so large and it takes four hours to travel to Tirah from my residence. Now we can cover all areas of our constituencies. There are also few drawbacks as some candidates are not financially strong and they cannot run campaign for so long. Voters also have their plans for voting on a particular day and with change of schedule, their planning is disturbed.”

Mohibullah, social activist from North Waziristan, supports postponement of polls for 18 days. He says it is a historic occasion and candidates will get ample time for their election campaigns.

He says: “Candidates could not do canvassing for one month due to the holy month of Ramazan. Delay in polls has provided opportunity to all candidates to do canvassing. These are historic polls and there is no harm is delay of few days. I am confident that polls will be held on July 20.”

Qaiser Khan, social worker from Kurram, says delay of 18 days doesn’t matter much, but the polls must not be delayed further.

He says: “Delay of two weeks or so is not a big issue. Elections must be held on time and our representatives must sit in KP Assembly. It is hoped that the Election Commission will not further delay the polls as people have great hopes with the process.”

Mohibullah from Darpakhel says postponement of elections is good for voters and candidates of North Waziristan because the districts administration, Election Commission and police were not fully prepared for the exercise due to law and order issues.

He says: “Elections were announced suddenly and candidates from North Waziristan had no time for electioneering. Postponement of elections to July 20 by Election Commission has now provided opportunity to conduct campaigning in all parts of their constituencies.”

Asif Hussain from Kurram says elections must be held on time and no injustice must be committed against tribal people. He says delay in elections will also delay development funds for merged districts.

Muhammad Jameel from Khyber district says delay in polls will enable the candidates to conduct more canvassing. He says the government must ensure polls on July 20. He says tribal people and candidates will not accept further delay in elections.

Haleem from Orakzai says the Election Commission has delayed polls in tribal districts on pretext of law and order problems.

He says: “The question arises how the government will improve law and order within 20 days. People must vote for those candidates who are capable of rising voice for their rights in KP Assembly.”

Naila from Kurram says elections in tribal districts must be held without delay.

She says: “We are also part of KP and we must get our right sooner than later. Tribal people are fully prepared for elections.”