The efforts to bring the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into the mainstream have officially begun. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced that the first ever Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assembly polls across tribal areas will take place in the month of June. These elections were postponed at the time of the 2018 general elections to ensure proper delimitation and to avert disenfranchisement of scattered tribal regions. According to the representation determined by the ECP, Bajaur, and Khyber will have three general seats each in the provincial assembly, Mohmand, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan will have two seats each while one seat will go to Orakzai and the Frontier Regions each.

While the ECP should be commended for their diligence in the process, there are a few lessons which can be learnt from the elections a year ago. There was a massive delay in the results of the polls along with the absence of form 45 from several polling stations which resulted in the speculations of rigging. The ECP should be very vigilant when it comes to matters like these and polling officers should have complete coordination with their respective heads to ensure no delay along with a complete collection of papers which proves the authenticity of the process.

This is the first time that the tribal areas will be included in the polling process. It is important that all the residents are duly registered. The initiative that ECP took in the last general elections to ensure female participation should be implemented in these areas as well. Female civic engagement is important so that the polls reflect the true essence of the majority. At the same time, efforts need to be made which make the process more transparent. Political parties should be provided with the ground to canvass for their political candidates, however, coercion or any manipulation in the voting procedure should be immediately reported.

These tribal elections are the first step towards a mainstream system, and it is efforts like these which will revive the trust of the people in the system. In order to overcome challenges, it is important to engage people from these areas in awareness campaigns along with the polling process so that a collective momentum is built towards the mainstream system. At the same time, while the ECP prepare for these elections, the federal government along with the KP assembly should take all the necessary measures for a smooth transition.