ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday postponed the first-ever provincial assembly elections in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) for

over two weeks after examining security details and administrative issues presented by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

Informed sources told Dawn that the KP home secretary told the ECP that Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code had recently been imposed in North Waziristan and campaigning was thus not possible for candidates there.

He went on to say that the current security situation did not warrant lifting of Section 144. He also said polling should be delayed for 20 days to allow the government to make the security and administration plan more coherent.

The ECP gave the government 18 days to improve the law and order situation and make necessary administrative arrangements and set July 20 as the new poll date instead of July 2.

Govt gets 18 days to improve law and order situation

The district administration imposed Section 144 of the code of criminal procedure in North Waziristan in an order issued on June 8 citing reports about current law and order situation in the district. There has been a surge in attacks on security personnel over the past couple of days in North Waziristan

Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza said the ECP wanted an abiding peace in the tribal districts and not just during election time. He said it was the responsibility of the provincial government.

ECP officers gave a detailed briefing on election preparations and said all arrangements for the polls had been made and they were completely ready to conduct polls.

The meeting was also attended by the interior secretary and intelligence and security agency representatives.

Following the passage of the Constitution (25th Amendment) Act, 2018, the ECP is bound to hold provincial assembly polls in erstwhile Fata within one year of the holding of general elections 2018, which were held on July 25.

Proposed ECP members

A meeting of the parliamentary committee on the appointment of ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan took place in the capital on Wednesday with Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari chairing the meeting.

Lists with three suggested names were presented by the government and the opposition each for appointment of ECP members from the two provinces.

ECP members Abdul Ghaffar Soomro from Sindh and retired Justice Shakeel Baloch from Balochistan retired on Jan 26. According to the Constitution new members should have been appoin-ted by March 12 — the constitutional deadline.

But three months have passed since the deadline expired. With the exchange of lists at the meeting it seems quite likely that new ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan will be appointed shortly. The committee will next meet on June 19.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2019