PESHAWAR, April 23: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday told the Peshawar High Court that arrangements for the eligible internally displaced persons (IDPs) from different conflict regions to participate in the May 11 elections would be finalised by April 30.
ECP, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa director (elections) Talib Hussain and law officer Riaz Khattak told a PHC bench consisting of Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Roohul Amin Khan that they had received data from the Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) regarding registered IDPs and had been verifying it with the help of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the relevant political agents.
They said the verification would be completed until April 25 and the polling scheme would be finalised by April 30.
The bench later adjourned the next hearing into the case until May 2 directing ECP, FDMA and Fata Secretariat to ensure that the polling scheme was finalised by then so that IDPs living in camps and off-camp could exercise their right of vote.
The chief justice had taken a suo moto notice of the issues related to IDPs in April last year and had issued several directives to PDMA and later to FDMA to provide all required facilities to IDPs at Jalozai Camp until their return to respective areas.A few weeks ago, the court had issued directives to ECP to make arrangements for IDPs in their camps so that they could participate in the elections.
PDMA chief coordinator Faiz Mohammad said all required facilities had been provided to IDPs at Jalozai camp in line with the court’s directives and international standards.
He said everyone interested could visit the camp to see the said facilities.
The PDMA chief coordinator said there were around 12,500 registered families at Jalozai Camp, while registered IDP families totaled around 166,000.
He said the Jalozai camp had become a model camp across the world where women had been made part of the decision-making process and that women committees and 18 women friendly spaces had been set up there.
Deputy attorney general Mohammad Iqbal Mohmand and lawyer for Fata Secretariat Malik Mujtaba said the federal government and Fata Secretariat had been extending all possible support to ECP to ensure that participation of IDPs in elections.
Also in the day, the bench adjourned the hearing into a petition of former federal minister and candidate for NA-39, Orakzai Agency Dr GG Jamal about the voting right of IDPs from his constituency.
The petitioner had requested the court that either all IDPs from Orakzai Agency be allowed to cast votes in the areas of their current settlement or the elections in the constituency be postponed.
Hashim Raza, lawyer for the petitioner, said the people displaced from the agency were scattered in different areas like Peshawar, Kohat and Hangu and the number of IDPs in camps were very less compared to those not living in camps.
The bench observed that ECP had already been making polling arrangements for the IDPs at appropriate places.
Meanwhile, the bench sought comments from the additional chief secretary of Fata Secretariat in a petition of contractor Mohammad Riaz about non-payment of dues.
The petitioner claimed that he had set up the New Durrani IDP camp in Lower Kurram Agency and the government had yet not made the due payment for the purpose.
Imad Durrani, lawyer for the petitioner, said his client was given the contract for establishment of the camp and provision of necessary facilities there. He said he was paid part of the due amount of money but payment of Rs4.574 million had been delayed by FDMA and Fata Secretariat.