PESHAWAR  -   The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has formally requested the Election Commission of Pakistan to delay the first-ever scheduled elections on provincial seats in the newly merged tribal areas of the province for 20 days.

The elections on 16 general seats for KP Assembly for merged tribal districts are being held on July 2, according to a May 6 notification of the ECP.

However, a June 3 letter to the ECP from Home and Tribal Areas Department of KP government had sought delaying the polls for 20 days.

Citing various reasons, the KP government asked the commission to delay polls owing to “the current unwarranted situation and threats of a serious nature from across the border Afghanistan, and some developments within the newly merged districts that may sabotage the whole process of holding forthcoming elections.” The letter written to the election commission lists “threats of terrorist activities from across the border/neighbouring Afghanistan with newly merged districts (NMDs); threat to political leadership of NMDs; post-merger issues of ex-Fata into KP.”

Moreover, fresh developments in North Waziristan, change of command of Levies and Khasadar personnel from deputy commissioners to district police officers have also been stated as some of the reasons. The letter added that Levies and Khasadars have not yet been trained to perform security duties in the absence of territorial and tribal responsibilities, for postponement of the polls.

“Therefore it is requested to postpone the provincial elections in NMDs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for 20 days to deal with the above mentioned reasons and making foolproof security and administrative arrangements for smooth, efficient and safe conduct of elections,” the letter concluded.

The National Assembly last month passed 26th Constitution Amendment Bill seeking an increase in the number of seats for the erstwhile Fata in the NA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.

It was introduced by Mohsin Dawar, a lawmaker affiliated with Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement from the tribal areas. The bill increases the number of NA seats for ex-Fata representatives from six to 12, and KP Assembly seats from 16 to 24. The bill is yet to be approved by the Senate.