LANDI KOTAL: The election campaign for three provincial assembly seats in Khyber district has yet to pick up momentum not only because of candidates’ apprehensions about possible delay in holding of polls, but also voters’ lack of trust in majority of the contestants.
A request by the tribal and home department of provincial government in early June for deferment of the elections scheduled for July 2 for at least three weeks on security concerns caused serious dents in the candidates’ resolve to kick off a robust campaign.
Most of the candidates are still apprehensive about the possibility of holding of elections, the first of its type in the tribal districts, to be held on July 20, as announced by Election Commission of Pakistan.
They believe that the possible tabling of the bill regarding enhancement in the number of provincial assembly seats for tribal districts in the parliament could further delay the elections.
Candidates not sure about holding of polls according to schedule
“We are in a fix and there is no clarification from the federal government about its intention regarding tabling of the said constitutional amendment bill,” a visibly confused Malakzada Nadeem Afridi, the PPP candidate for PK-105, told this scribe.
Naheed Rehman Afridi, the ANP candidate for PK-106, too is in a quandary due to the uncertainty about holding of elections as per schedule.
She said that fear of postponement of elections was hanging on her hear like the proverbial ‘Sword of Damocles’ which was also disturbing her campaign.
Shah Faisal Afridi of Jamaat-i-Islami, who is contesting for PK-107, accused the governments, both in the centre and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, of deliberately creating confusion about holding of elections on time and denying them the opportunity to run a full-fledged campaign.
So far, the response and participation of voters too in the election campaign is not very encouraging and the traditional mass enthusiasm is missing in all the three constituencies.
The sight of traditional elections-related gatherings and voter gossiping at the campaign camps established by rival candidates too is missing as very few candidates have so far established such camps.
Mohammad Javed, a youth leader hailing from Sipah tribe, told this scribe that majority of the candidates lost trust of voters owing to frequently changing stance on merger of tribal areas with the province.
He said the candidates, who won the previous elections, also failed to fulfil their promises.
“We know the historic and political importance of the July 20 elections and would exercise extreme caution in selecting a suitable candidate from our constituency,” he said.
Turab Ali, a political analyst from Bara, believed that wrong decision made by some major political parties in awarding tickets to candidates also negatively impacted the campaign trail of most contestants in Khyber.
He said that internal bickering among the workers and candidates of different political parties would benefit some influential and wealthy independent candidates as they utilised all their resources to win the support of maximum number of voters while also discrediting the political parties for making erroneous decisions on such a critical turn of political history of tribal areas.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2019