The fate of polls in KP continues to hang in balance

Tariq Saeed

The fate of elections in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continues to hang in balance as the consultative meeting between the Governor KP Haji Ghulam Ali and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) held in Governor House Peshawar to decide date for the polls remained inconclusive and the Commission has invited Governor Ali to have another session this time with the Chief Election Commissioner next week.

Sources say both the parties during a meeting in Governor House a day earlier remained stuck to their point of view with the Governor House wanted to bring into discussion the Law & Order before giving date for the polls, while the ECP team distanced itself from giving briefing to the Governor on the security situation saying that as per the directives of the Supreme Court of Pakistan the consultations have to be held only to decide the poll dates hence parleys must be limited to only discussing the elections date in the province.

It may be recalled that as per the directives of the Supreme Court of Pakistan the election commission had written a letter to the Governor KP Haji Ghulam Ali asking him to announce the date for the elections in the province.

The Governor, however, told the newsmen that the house received the letter late on March 3 late in the evening. Moreover he could not open the letter as it was sent in the secretary’s name adding the secretary was on leave and once he comes back on Monday then he will open the letter and announce the date.

However, instead of announcing the date on Monday last, the Governor while talking to a newsmen delegation on the same say said that he has responded to the ECP’s letter regarding announcement of date for elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa adding he has suggested March 7 or March 8 for consultative meeting with the Election Commission though he said that the Supreme Court’s order regarding elections would be implemented.

It may be recalled that Maulana Fazal ur Rehman the Secretary General of his own faction of Jamiat –e-Ulema-e- Islam( JUI) of whom Governor KP is the member, has a couple of days opposed the holding of elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab as per the orders of Supreme Court of Pakistan and criticized the court.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had on Wednesday sent a delegation to Peshawar that held meeting with the Governor Ali who was assisted by his team that included Principal Secretary to Governor Mehmood Hassan and additional secretary Governor House Saif ul Islam.

The Election commission was represented by the Secretary ECP Umer Hameed Khan, Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal Hussein and Director General Law ECP Arshad Khan.

The Governor House officials said the governor welcomed the ECP team for the consultative meeting adding that the directives of the Supreme Court with regard to holding polls in the province will be implemented in letter and spirits. The Governor during the meeting also apprised the ECP team about the overall situation in the province in general and the Law and order in particular.

Sources said Governor Ali in the meeting expressed his apprehensions about the deteriorating Law and Order in the KP and which he said was not a favorable situation for holding the elections in the province shortly.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has now invited Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Governor Haji Ghulam Ali on March 14 for another consultation on date for holding election in province.

Reports said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor House has received the invitation letter written by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for consultation.

The letter invited KP governor to arrive at Election Commission Secretariat on March 14 at 2:00 pm to have s final consultation between the Governor and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Raja Sultan on the election date.

Though the Governor House Officials said the consultative meeting between the Governor KP and the ECP team, that spanned over two hours, entered last phase yet they also said the Governor would hold another meeting with the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad next week. Means by the date for the polls in the KP is not likely to be announced shortly as the meeting in Islamabad may be followed by few more meetings and consultative sessions aimed at further delaying the polls to possible extent.