PESHAWAR   -   A total of 425 aspirants filed nomina­tion papers for elections on 16 gener­al seats of merged districts for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. The Election Commission of Pakistan will issue elec­tion symbols to the candidates on May 30, while polling is going to take place on July 2.

At least 30 women candidates have also filed nomination papers for contesting four reserved seats. Likewise, some nine contenders will fight for one minority seat, sources in the ECP, told The Nation.

As many as 476 candidates have filed nomination papers, however, 51 of them were rejected during the scrutiny pro­cess, completed on May 18. As per the ECP data, the highest number of nom­ination papers – 39 – were accepted in PK-101 Bajaur-II and PK-108 Kurram-I constituencies followed by 33 in PK-113 South Waziristan I.

Similarly, the number of nominees in other constituencies include 23 in PK-100 Bajaur-I and PK-102 Bajaur-III each, 20 and 26 in PK-103 Mohmand-I and PK-104 Mohmand-II respectively, 27 in PK-105 Khyber-I, 24 in PK-107 Khyber-III, 22 in PK-109 Kurram-II, 25 in PK-110 Orakzai, 28 in PK-III North Waziristan-I, 25 in PK-112 North Waziristan-II, 18 in PK-114 South Waziristan-II and 13 in PK-115 former Frontier Region.

Furthermore, the last date to with­draw candidature is May 29, while the issuance of the final list of candidates and allocation of symbols will take place on May 30. According to the ECP, the last date for postal ballot paper for govern­ment servants and persons with disabil­ities is June 20, whereas, June 24 is fixed for polling staff.

People belonging to the merged dis­tricts would for the first time get rep­resentation in the provincial assembly, despite the fact that they have already 20 seats in the Parliament, including 12 in the National Assembly and eight in the Senate.

Under 25th Constitutional Amend­ment Act 2018, the tribal areas were merged with KP on May 31, 2018 and the government is bound to hold KP As­sembly’s elections in tribal merged dis­tricts within a year of holding of the 2018 general elections.

However, uncertainty persists due to the pending legislation, as on May 13, the National Assembly passed the 26th Con­stitutional Amendment Bill 2019, aimed at increasing the provincial assembly seats for erstwhile Fata including 24 general seats and six seats reserved for women and one for minorities.

The bill now awaits passage by the Senate. If it is passed, then the Election Commission of Pakistan will be bound to hold the provincial assembly polls in the erstwhile Fata within 18 months of the 2018 general elections. If the process goes ahead then up to 2,662,550 regis­tered voters in the erstwhile Fata would exercise their right to vote on July 2, for which a total of 1,943 polling stations have been setup in tribal districts.