NationalVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 34

The significance of fair and inclusive elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Although elections for the provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) were constitutionally scheduled for May 14, the present ruling alliance of 13 parties, along with the Election Commission of Pakistan, have violated the Constitution by not holding the polls by the due date. These upcoming elections, whether for the KP provincial assembly or the National Assembly constituencies, will hold significant importance for national politics and the future of Pakistan.

The KP province is particularly sensitive due to various historic and political reasons. It has suffered greatly during the country’s prolonged war against terrorism, being at the forefront of the conflict. The province has experienced significant human and economic losses as a result. Additionally, the KP province, especially its Merged Tribal Districts (formerly FATA region), faces immense developmental challenges. There is a pervasive sense of deprivation among its inhabitants, stemming from the belief that the federal government has treated KP unfairly and exploited its resources while formulating foreign and security policies that have negatively impacted the region.

The sensitivity of the KP province will play a crucial role in the upcoming provincial and National Assembly elections. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its leader, former Prime Minister Imran Khan, will be instrumental factors in these elections. Despite efforts to undermine the PTI, both Khan and his party remain immensely popular in KP. The PTI has achieved consecutive victories in the province during the 2013 and 2018 national elections, securing majority seats in the KP assembly and the National Assembly. This is a significant departure from KP’s history of not allowing any political party to rule for more than one term.

Since Khan’s ousting from power in April 2022, KP has shown unwavering support for him and his protest movement against the current ruling alliance. Even in the face of PTI’s recent challenges in Punjab, another stronghold of the party, KP has remained resilient. The PTI and Imran Khan have become vital figures in KP’s sensitivity, as the province is predominantly inhabited by the Pakhtun ethnic group. If the upcoming elections are marred by rigging or attempts to exclude the PTI and Khan from participating, it will dangerously exacerbate the sense of deprivation among KP residents. The PTI and Khan are seen as leaders by the majority of KP residents, and any attempts to deny their political power could have grave consequences. Transparent and fair elections in KP are essential to address the acute sense of dispossession regarding social, political, and economic rights, as the consequences of neglecting these rights would be detrimental to the country.

Furthermore, the province faces significant economic, security, and social challenges. Denying a popular party and its leadership the opportunity to contest elections and gain political power would worsen the sense of deprivation and magnify existing issues. A party or coalition of parties lacking genuine public mandate would struggle to effectively address the security, economic, and social challenges faced by the province.

It is evident that the PTI and Imran Khan currently enjoy widespread popularity in KP. If the PTI manages to regain power in the province, it will create an interesting and potentially difficult situation. Given the current political landscape, where the PTI is not allowed to hold power at the federal level or in Punjab, a PTI-led government in KP would likely face challenges and conflicts with the central government and other parties. The policymakers’ plans concerning KP appear to lack pragmatism and may not contribute to the solution of the province’s colossal problems.

In conclusion, the upcoming elections in KP hold immense significance for the province and the future of Pakistan. The sensitivity of the region, coupled with the popularity of the PTI and Imran Khan, demands transparent and fair elections to address the residents’ sense of deprivation and ensure a level playing field for all political parties. Failure to address these concerns will further exacerbate the challenges faced by the province and hinder effective governance.

Furthermore, the upcoming elections in KP are crucial for addressing the pressing issues faced by the province. It is essential to provide a level playing field for all political parties and ensure a fair electoral process. By doing so, the province can elect leaders who are capable of tackling its economic, security, and social challenges effectively.

The KP province requires strong leadership that can address the sense of deprivation felt by its residents. This can only be achieved by empowering the chosen representatives who genuinely reflect the aspirations of the people. Denying the popular PTI and Imran Khan the opportunity to participate in the elections would not only undermine the democratic process but also further deepen the existing grievances.

KP’s problems are multifaceted, and they require a comprehensive and pragmatic approach for effective solutions. A party or coalition with a genuine public mandate will be better equipped to navigate the complex issues faced by the province. It is crucial to have leaders who can address the economic disparities, improve security conditions, and implement social policies that uplift the marginalized communities.

Moreover, the central government must recognize the importance of KP’s role in national politics and governance. By ensuring the fair representation of the province and accommodating the demands of its residents, the central government can foster a more inclusive and cohesive Pakistan. This will require collaboration, dialogue, and a willingness to address the long-standing grievances that have fueled the sense of deprivation in KP.

Ultimately, the success of KP’s future lies in the hands of its residents, who deserve a transparent and accountable electoral process. The upcoming elections should serve as an opportunity to rebuild trust, empower the people, and forge a path towards a more prosperous and harmonious province.

It is imperative for policymakers to prioritize the needs and aspirations of KP’s residents. Neglecting their concerns or manipulating the electoral process will only deepen the existing divide and hinder progress. By embracing inclusivity, transparency, and genuine democratic principles, Pakistan can foster a stronger and more resilient province, ensuring a brighter future for all its citizens.

In conclusion, the upcoming elections in KP hold significant importance for the province’s future and the overall trajectory of Pakistan. They present an opportunity to address the sense of deprivation, elect capable leaders, and work towards resolving the pressing economic, security, and social challenges faced by the province. It is essential to conduct the elections in a fair, transparent, and inclusive manner to restore trust, empower the people, and pave the way for a prosperous KP that contributes to the development and unity of the entire nation.