The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has chosen 2nd of July as the polling day for the 16 new constituencies in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The day indeed will be a historic day for the people of tribal areas as they for the first time in the history will be exercising their right to vote in its real sense. With the completion of the exercise, the general seats of the KP Assembly will increase from 99 to 115.

The merger of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the KP will allow the representatives of these districts to legislate not only for their regions but also for the rest of Pakistan. Now, giving the people of these districts the right to elect their representatives in the provincial assembly will complete the process of political enfranchisement.

While the ECP has issued all the guidelines for the process of elections that the candidates shall be following, the ECP has not taken into consideration the objections and reservations of the opposition parties regarding the frontier regions (FRs) of the erstwhile FATA. It seems that the ECP is in haste to get rid of the responsibility that is lying on its shoulders.

The ECP has made all FRs one constituency. However, making all FRs a single constituency is nonsensical and absurd. Problems will surface in the future. How can a candidate from FR Tank campaign in FR Peshawar that is hundreds of kilometres away from his hometown? And in between the two FRs lie many cities. Likewise is the story of all FRs. ECP needs to rethink its delimitation exercise.

Having said this, one thing that the ECP and law enforcement agencies need to work on jointly is the law and order situation before and on the day of the election. The general elections that took place in 2018 witnessed a lot of violence. Making this round of elections peaceful is the primary task of the ECP and concerned law enforcement agencies. There can still be some sleeper cells of the terrorists in these regions that can undermine the whole process.

The election on these 16 seats will be a litmus test for political parties to gauge their performance so far after the last elections held in 2018. If the ruling party, i.e., Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) does not secure a simple majority in the upcoming elections, then it is alarming for PTI. Meanwhile, the opposition parties will try their level best to shake the ruling party in these elections while keeping their eyes on the next general elections.