BAJAUR: Political and civil society activists and businessmen on Wednesday expressed concern about the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to halve the number of National Assembly seats in the tribal districts, and vowed to resist the move.

In separate statements and interaction with media, they said according to the ECP’s preliminary delimitation report issued on Tuesday, NA seats in merged districts had been halved to six from the current 12.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz provincial vice-president and former lawmaker Shahabuddin Khan told Dawn that the proposed reduction in NA seats was unacceptable to the people of tribal districts.

He said as per the ECP decision Bajaur would have only one NA seat instead of the current two.

He said the decision was violation of ECP’s own criteria that every NA constituency should have 788,933 votes, as according to him, the population of Bajaur was more than 1.5 million, which meant that the district should have two NA seats.

He asked the ECP to revisit the decision, saying the people would file objections to the commission’s preliminary report.

Pakistan Peoples Party senior leader and former MNA Sayed Akhunzada Chattan, Jamaat-i-Islami leader and former lawmaker Sahibzada Haroon Rasheed, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl district head and former senator Maulana Abdur Rasheed, Bajaur Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Haji Lali Shah, Bajaur Youth Jirga chairman Rehan Zeb Khan and Ittehad Malkanan Bajaur spokesman Malik Shaheen Khan, in separate statements, also flayed the ECP decision.

They asked the people to raise voice against this decision to press the ECP to maintain the existing number of NA seats in the merged districts.

They also threatened to launch a protest movement if the ECP did not withdraw the decision.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2022

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