The demand Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat Islami (JI) have made that Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should hold polls for the provincial Assembly seats in Fata along with the upcoming general election is valid; however, the timing of making this demand is wrong. The concerns raised by the Chief Minister (CM) Pervaiz Khattak in his letter to chief execution commissioner are valid. The most pertinent argument Pervaiz makes in his letter is his contention that the 21 seats allocated to the newly added areas would impact the composition and complexion of the provincial assembly. This composition, in turn, will affect the elected government’s formation.

 What is worth remembering is that according to the 31st Constitutional Amendment elections in Fata will take place within a year after the 2018 general elections are held. The fears of CM KP are in place as once any party secures a majority in the rest of the province it is easy for that party to outclass other political parties on the seats allocated to Fata in the provincial assembly. Moreover, failing to hold elections in all parts of the province means that political uncertainty will be the norm in the meanwhile. Add to this will be the influence that the incumbent government will exert on the election process in the region.

As said earlier, all the contentions and concerns of Mr Khattak are valid and justified, however, the time he has chosen for raising reservations is not the most suitable. In less than two months the general elections will take place. Khattak should have considered all the pros and cons of the merger well before the date of the election was announced. In fact, it was known to everyone that elections on the provincial seats of Fata would take place one year after the general elections. It is almost impossible for ECP to act accordingly. One cannot just blame ECP for losing the gains of the integration.

Nevertheless, considering the complexities involved in the integration process the seats reserved for Fata in the provincial Assembly can be awarded to the parties proportionally according to the seats they secure in the general election. That is the only plausible solution to avoid the political instability and creating a level playing field for all the political parties. If the parties are not accepting proportional representation in Fata, then the burden of addressing the reservations raised PTI and JI lie on the shoulders of the interim provincial government and other political parties. All of them need to sit together to avoid the gains that integration of Fata gives to the people.