First-ever PA polls in former FATA

The representation of tribal residents comprising former FATA was a significant occasion in the country’s history. As reported by initial results released by the ECP, independent candidates triumphed the provincial assembly elections in the seven tribal districts of Fata by securing six out of the 16 general seats, while the ruling party captured five seats. 285 candidates, including two women, contested the general seats of the KP Assembly to represent three constituencies each of Bajaur and Khyber districts; two each of Mohmand, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan; and one each of Orakzai district and ex-Frontier regions. Polling was held under heavy security arrangements, and the process was calm and peaceful. Independent candidates have traditionally triumphed over political parties as the latter do not have strong source in the tribal areas. Candidates with huge resources won by pleasant margins. In some constituencies, voters supported according to their tribal links or affiliation with religious parties. Prominent also was the victory of the PTM-linked candidate who won in North Waziristan – an area still suffering from the attack on the Kharqamar check-post. Two of the biggest political parties in the country – the PPP and PML-N – did not get even a single seat. The general turnout remained low, with 735,000 of the 2.8million registered voters going to the polls; women’s representation stood at 28.6 percent, in spite of the fact that it was a turning moment for FATA. Obviously, there is work to be done to involve the residents of the tribal districts into the political process. The ECP had launched a remarkable conciousness campaign in the tribal districts in the run-up to the polls, but space still exist and the ECP must engage and encourage more voters before the next election. There was also the issue of campaign restrictions in North and South Waziristan, which was finally lifted after the ECP interfered last week. In spite the low turnout, the FATA election recorded the landmark promptness of its residents towards the voting process. The severe heat, security fears, and the lack of the political enthusiasm which holds a country during a general election did not keep away voters in constituencies for example Kurram-II, which witnessed a 40 percent turnout. It is still heartening that the general consent amongst the candidates was that the election was without obstacles and was fair.
A vast number of tribal men and women went to the polls and voted to elect 16 members as their representatives in the KP Assembly. They not only established themselves as a free people but also sent out the true message that they do not want to be left behind in the march of time. The tribal people have frankly passed their message to fellow Pakistanis that what happened currently should have happened soon after the passage of 25th Constitutional Amendment last year. Nearly 20 percent of women voters turned out. At number of the polling stations they were almost equal to men voters. The total turnout was a less than the turnout for the National Assembly seats. They only wanted to become part of power- division and lawmaking. On finishing of this adjustment the KP Assembly will have 145 seats – with PTI’s 90 to increase to 95. Considering the fact that the PTI has a comfortable majority in the house, the current extras to the parties in the house are not anticipated to transform the balance of power in the house in any substantial manner. The election results show that as against their demand the religious political parties are no more the people’s first option. The JUI (F), which had objected FATA-KP amalgamation as it considered the tribal belt to be its safe indisputable constituency, has secured only three seats while Jamaat-i-Islami got only one seat. The PTI seemed to have lost some of its advantageous seat it contested all 16 seats but won only five. The ANP has maintained its position in the house of 124 it had 12 seats and won one out of 16 now. The PPP and PML (N) the tribal voter has no mind for them. Nearly all principal political parties are being largely limited to their respective provinces. Now FATA is no more in the battle zone of fight against terrorists the tribal people should be provided facilities for their welfare economic upliftment.
Before the polls, there were forecasts that a huge number of people would come forward to cast their first ever votes for the provincial assembly. The 26 percent turnout, however, suggests differently. The number of independent candidates is important as according to election rules any elected member who announces connection with a party within three days of the publication of the official results will count as a member of that party when it comes to deciding the four reserved seats for women and minorities under the proportional representational system. The PTI has also announced it will be taking action against members who contested as independents. Many of those who voted were younger people, excited by the likelihood of being involved in the conventional of Pakistan’s politics. The major political parties need an agenda that convinces people to cast their votes in favour of these parties and show confidence in their capacity to provide on their promises. Tribal people for a long time remained hopeless and speechless, on the other hand their representatives, mostly well known clergy or tribal lords, elected for National Assembly and Senate seats, scarcely raised their worries at the forums concerned. The consolidation of the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province opens up a new phase of constitutional rights and development to past seven FATA agencies. The area remained under the Frontier Crimes Regulation denied rights and opportunities to the local population. The political integration tribal people will take time. It is anticipated that the elections will bring about a favorable change in the areas in terms of economic and social development and job opportunities and assist to terminate militarism.

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