PESHAWAR: The authorities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Secretariat have sought delimitation of the recently merged seven tribal districts and six Frontier Regions as the provincial government is planning to hold the local government elections there in March next year.
The FATA Secretariat through a letter to the secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on September 13 sought delimitation of the constituencies of the local governments in the erstwhile tribal areas.
The letter referred to the federal cabinet’s decision taken during its May 8 meeting that “Local Bodies elections would be held in the (former) Fata in October this year.”
It has approached the ECP secretary as in terms of Section 221 of the Election Act, 2017, the ECP is mandated to delimit constituencies of the local governments, which is one of the requirements before conducting elections.
The Fata Secretariat also informed the ECP that the present government attached high priority to the elections of the local governments in the former Fata and had endorsed the earlier decision that the local bodies’ polls in the merged tribal districts should be held as soon as possible.
The ECP has been asked to initiate the process of delimitation of the constituencies in the erstwhile tribal areas so that election could be held as per the proposed programme of the provincial government.
The News on Tuesday learnt that Fata Secretariat took a number of steps including approaching the ECP for delimitation after the officials at Strategic Support Unit (SSU), Chief Minister’s Secretariat, informed it that the provincial government intended to hold the local governments elections in the tribal districts in March next year.
Meanwhile, official sources told this scribe that the provincial government had made up its mind to hold the local governments polls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in March next year at least two months ahead of the schedule of the polls that were last held in May 2015.
They said the local government elections in the former Fata, now merged in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, could be held at the same time in March 2019. The officials said they have not yet received any response from the ECP with regard to the FATA Secretariat’s request for the delimitation of constituencies.
The Sartaj Aziz-led Fata Reforms Committee had proposed party-based local bodies elections in the tribal areas before the end of 2017 in case the repatriation and rehabilitation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) there was completed by that time.
However, the idea could not be materialised as complete rehabilitation and repatriation of the IDPs could not be done by the end of 2017.
Holding the local government elections in the former tribal areas requires updating of the electoral rolls and delimitation of the constituencies in accordance with the new census done in 2017.
The Fata Secretariat has in its preliminary report proposed two-tier local government system for the newly merged tribal districts i.e. the district and tehsil tiers.
The document retrieved from the Fata Secretariat indicates that only a tattered local government administrative network exists in the former tribal agencies and there was a need to strengthen it before the proposed polls.
It said that in a few merged tribal districts, assistant directors and other staff of the local government offices are still posted.
According to the document, under the 2002 Local Bodies Elections Order, as many as 296 union councils, including those in the Frontier Regions, had been notified in the erstwhile tribal areas.
A total of 19 tehsils, including Khuwezai/Baizai, were also notified in the former Fata.
Besides, 16 municipal committees were notified, though only Parachinar and Sadda in Kurram tribal district, Miranshah in North Waziristan and Khar in Bajaur are functional at the moment.