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PESHAWAR: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and political administration of Kurram Agency have not yet even decided to hold polls on National Assembly seat, NA-38, which has been lying vacant for more than a year.

The polls on the seat were postponed after a bomb blast at the election rally of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl candidate Munir Khan Orakzai in Parachamkani on May 7, 2013.

The ECP is passing the buck to political administration and civil secretariat Fata to give it a security clearance before announcing schedule for polls on the vacant seat. Officials in the secretariat say that ECP is supposed to seek report about prospects of holding elections in the area.

An official in the ECP regional office in Peshawar, when approached, said that ECP would conduct polls in NA-38 once it received security clearance report from the authorities concerned.

He said that law and order situation had been discussed with officials of the law enforcement agencies, chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and political administration. They did not give security clearance, added.

Former tribal lawmaker says security is not an issue in NA-38 as situation is normal

“The ECP can’t assess security situation in a constituency on its own and has to depend upon local administration for analysing the situation,” the official said. He stated that the issue had been discussed with the relevant quarters several times and their (officials) opinion was that security situation was not fit for conducting elections in NA-38.

According to Law and Order Secretary Shakeel Qadir, ECP was supposed to ask civil secretariat to analyse security situation in the area for holding elections. He said that the last meeting was held in February and prospects of polls were discussed.

After that meeting ECP never sought report from civil secretariat or political administration about situation in Kurram, he said.

“Secretariat will analyse security situation whenever required,” he said.

The bomb explosion at the election rally had left 25 people dead while over 70 others had suffered injuries. Following the incident, security forces launched operation in Parachamkani, east of Parachinar to clear the area of militants.

Military operation and large scale displacement from the area forced ECP to postpone elections in NA-38, which encompasses of central subdivision and parts of lower subdivision of Kurram valley. The number of registered voters in the constituency is 156,330.

The government writ in lower and central subdivisions of Kurram has been restored and law enforcement agencies have concluded combat operation in central parts of the valley last year. The internally displaced persons (IDPs) are going back to their homes.

Officials in Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) said that 100 per cent IDPs had gone back to Parachamkani. According to the data, 49 per cent of the IDPs had returned to Alisherzai, 56 per cent to Masozai and 18 per cent to Zaimusht areas in central Kurram.

They said that 8,213 displaced families, among them 4845 families living in New Durrani Camp in lower Kurram, were waiting for returning to their homes in central Kurram.

Munir Orakzai, who had won polls from this constituency in 2002 and 2006, told Dawn that the area had been secured and administration was likely to give security clearance report to ECP to conduct elections in NA-38 after Eidul Azha.

“Security is not an issue in NA-38 and situation is normal,” he said, adding chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would probably get briefing about law and order situation in Kurram and ECP would get green signal for conducting polls.

Mr Orakzai said that some of the IDPs had returned to their homes and the remaining, like dislocated people of other tribal agencies, could be facilitated in camps to cast their votes.

Published in Dawn, September 29th , 2014