PESHAWAR: Governor Ghulam Ali has hinted at holding third meeting with Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to propose a date for general elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“ECP is trying [to hold polls] following the orders issued by the apex court but we have to see the ground realities,” he said in a statement issued here on Monday.

The governor said that he himself desired free, fair and peaceful polls in the province. He said that the orders issued by the apex court would be fully implemented. However, the residents of tribal districts were holding protest in federal capital as they were against general elections before the announcement of new census results, he added.

“The process of consultation on a date for holding polls in the province has completed and another meeting will be held with ECP in a day or two,” he said. He added that provincial government gave a written response to him about its preparedness for holding polls in the province that was shared with ECP.

Ghulam Ali says orders of apex court will be fully implemented

Mr Ali said that situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was completely different from that of Punjab. He said that being a constitutional body, he shared with ECP all the security concerns expressed by provincial government. “I have shared my opinion with ECP and the rest is the ECP’s job,” he added.

He also rejected rumours about a conflict between him and Caretaker Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan. He termed it mere propaganda on social media sites.

On March 15, the governor fixed May 28 as the date for general polls to the provincial assembly, without officially communicating the decision to ECP. The decision to fix the poll date was announced by the governor during a brief interaction with journalists after his meeting with ECP representatives for final consultation.

On March 18, however, he backtracked on his decision to hold elections to the provincial assembly on May 28 and called for addressing ‘key challenges’ before fixing a new date for the elections.

In a letter sent to ECP in response to the watchdog’s communication asking him to formally set a date for the provincial assembly polls, the governor instead of conveying the date said that the province remained an epicentre of terrorism due to long-drawn war and security-centric policies.

He said that in the letter that US withdrawal from Afghanistan, establishment of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by Tehreek-i-Taliban Afghanistan and inconclusive reconciliation process compounded the internal security challenges in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, said that kinetic threats included improvised explosive device attacks, suicide bombings, cross-border attacks, raids, targeted killings, extortion and abduction.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2023

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