The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced a reduction in National Assembly (NA) seats from 342 to 336 in total. At the same time, the Federally Administered Tribal Area’s (FATA) representation has been reduced by six seats. But despite public outrage, there is little that the ECP can do since the delimitation is based upon the constitutional law of proportionality. The only hope is that the extra seats awarded to KP might make up for the loss.

The ECP published a preliminary delimitation report which explained the reason behind the federal government’s decision. Each district’s population is supposed to be divided over the population quota for the NA seats in the province. According to the results of the census, FATA’s population declined and that inevitably meant that its seats would be reduced. However, its merger with KP still gives it some platform to ensure that it is represented in matters of importance.

Local tribes in the area have announced that they will launch protests against the decision and demand for the restoration of lost seats. This demand is supported by claims that the previous census was conducted when the people of FATA were displaced due to countless military operations in tribal areas. Accordingly, they filed a case in the Peshawar High Court which is now pending. There should also be other considerations like the lack of development, or lax development rather, in the region. While one can understand that these are legitimate grievances, there is little that the ECP can do. This is the law and amending it would be a long drawn-out process that will entail making constitutional changes.

The locals claim that their rights have been violated and so, it is the government’s responsibility to provide the reassurance that is needed. They must be given guarantees that despite the reduced number of seats, their demands will be acknowledged and actively pursued.