PESHAWAR: All political parties except the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are blaming the government for delaying polls for vested interests. The KP government strongly rejects this assertion.

KP Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai insisted while talking to TNN that application for postponement of polls was sent with good intensions.

We want rehabilitation and infrastructure development in tribal districts and establishment of schools, colleges and universities. To achieve these targets, it is vital to hold elections in tribal districts and people elect their representatives so that they get their due rights which are already enjoyed by other people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” Shaukat Yousafzai said.

He said tribal people have got right to approach judiciary to get justice and they are happy over it.

”The government wants elections in merged districts in peaceful environment. Tribal people must reap full benefit of the process. The winning and losing position of any party cannot be changed within 10 or 20 days. The people of tribal districts will decide the outcome of polls,” he said.

The minister said the decision to seek delay in the polls was taken in best interest of people.

“We don’t want to keep tribal people deprived of their rights and we support timely elections there. The government has allocated Rs100 billion for merged districts and Rs86 billion has been allocated for development projects in the budget,” he said.

He said representatives of merged districts must come to KP Assembly to prioritize development projects for their areas. He said representation of tribal MPAs is vital in KP Assembly and KP government is fully committed to it.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is of the view that it was even fully prepared for holding elections on July 02. It says delay of 18 days will benefit all candidates.

The Election Commission spokesman for KP Sohail Ahmed said while talking to TNN that the electoral body changed the date of provincial elections in tribal districts from July 02 to July 20 on the application of KP government.

“According to final list, 297 candidates are participating in elections. Appointment and training of polling staff will also begin within few days. As many as 2.8 million voters, including 1.6 million males and over 1.1 million females, will use their right to vote in the July 20 elections,” he said.

The official said the Election Commission is responsible for holding polls and other administrative responsibilities are exercised by the government.

“The ECP has now received more time to conduct polls in a free and transparent manner. It is collective responsibility of people, political parties, civil society and media to work for ensuring maximum turnout in tribal elections,” he said.