PML-N’s Amir Muqam suggests ‘2-4 week’ poll delay due to prevalent security, weather condition threat
PML-N Khyber Pakhtunkhwa President Amir Muqam on Saturday suggested that the upcoming February 8 general elections should be delayed by two to four weeks due to the prevalent security threat and the weather conditions of the tribal belt on election day.
Last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and President Arif Alvi had agreed on February 8, 2024 as the date for polls. Meanwhile, caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti a day ago had emphasised the government’s readiness to ensure peaceful general elections but at the same time acknowledged the terrorist threats faced by political leaders in the run-up to the polls, highlighting a general threat to political figures, with a specific alert for Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
Last week, KP Governor Ghulam Ali had also said it was difficult to carry out political activities in parts of KP and Balochistan due to the security situation.
Talking about the matter during an interview on Dawn News show InFocus, Muqam said the current situation in KP was nothing new, referring to the security situation in 2008 and 2013, saying that despite that, elections were still held.
He said there was no other option than polls and that is why political parties were continuing their campaigning activities. Muqam added there were always threats to certain individuals, particularly in KP, pointing out that he himself was the target of many attacks.
“There is no other solution to the country’s ill than elections. We do have one genuine reservation, one is the security issue, but many areas such as the Malakand division, Hazara, tribal belt and some areas in Balochistan where there will be a lot of snowfall on Feb 8 so access is not possible in those conditions.
“Considering those ground realities we say, if elections are delayed by two to three to four weeks to March 1 or 2 instead of Feb 8 then more people will be able to participate,” he said.
Pressed for elaboration on whether the PML-N had officially taken up the matter with the ECP, Muqam said many individuals had done so on a personal basis but not on the party’s behalf because it was a “genuine issue”.
He said this solution was only specific to the weather issue since the security threat was always present and would remain so, pointing out that it was not something that could be controlled in three to four months.
Muqam also claimed that the PML-N was in the “best position” in KP for the upcoming polls from the other parties.
In June, Muqam had said that he had evaded a potential ambush from “non-local armed men” in KP’s Shangla district. Muqam told Dawn.com that the suspects were “poised to attack” him at the same place in Martung where in 2014 he had survived a blast from an improvised explosive device. He said such elements were present in the Bunir district border area.