ISLAMABAD: Although the main purpose for the creation of the Senate was to give equal representation to all the federating units in order to promote national cohesion and harmony and to alleviate fears of the smaller provinces regarding deprivation and exploitation, it serves little purpose because it turns out to be an elite club.
Like the rest of the country, the affluent people of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are buying their way into the Senate through the power of their wealth as unfortunately, the so-called public representatives, are ready for sale because the Senate became a minting machine for the MNAs, who quite often gave votes against their conscientiousness.
A total of the 28 candidates have filed their nomination papers for the four FATA Senate seats and not a single candidate was filed on the basis of their party affiliation rather on their wealth because no political party has enough members in the National Assembly (NA) to elect their party candidates.
Well-placed sources, privy to the development, told Pakistan Today that several secret meetings were held by various FATA MNAs separately in order to hammer out a strategy to woo maximum rate.
They said that since money is to be a decisive factor in winning a Senate seat from the region; hence some candidates are already offering as much as Rs 500 million for the seat; however they said that these rates are expected to shoot up in the time to come due to which the rate is yet to be fixed.
They said that lawmakers broke deals in the past because when they got a good offer, they took no time to violate the deal. This is the reason why all the players are consciously playing their cards.
The candidates who filed their nomination papers with the returning officer for FATA’s Senate seats, include Sajid Hussain Turi from Parachinar Upper Kurrum, Hidyatullah from Bajaur Agency, Shammim Afridi from District Kohat, Malik Najmul Hassan from Orakzia Agency, Shoaib Hassan from Orakzai Agency, Haider Shah from Bajaur Agency, Hilalur Rehman from Mohmond Agency, Mirza Muhammad Afridi from Khyber Agency, Irfanullah from Khyber Agency, Tahir Iqbal from Orakzai Agency, Abdul Razaq from Dara Adam Khel FR Kohat, Adnan Sattar from Kurrum Agency, Syed Akhonzada Chaittan from Bajaur Agency, Saleh from South Waziristan Agency, Mirza Muhammad Afridi from Khyber Agency, Faizur Rehman from Dara Adam Khan FR Kohat, Syed Jamal from Kurram Agency, Shahid Hussain from Khyber Agency, Pir Muhammad Aqeel Shah from North Waziristan, Shabhan Ali from Orazkzai Agency, Haji Khan from Khyber Agency, Zaiur Rehman from South Waziristan, Malik Afzal Din Khan from Kurrum Agency, Syed Ghazighazan Jamal from Hangu, Farhad Shabab from Khyber Agency, Jangrez Khan from Mohmand Agency, Shah Khalid from Khyber Agency and Nizamud-Din Khan from Bajaur Agency.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued the schedule for the upcoming Senate elections in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). According to the schedule, polling on the four FATA seats will be held on March 3. February 12 was the last date for filing the nomination papers and the list of nominated candidates will be published on February 13.
Ironically, FATA representatives cannot legislate for their homeland because the Pakistani Constitution stipulates that the country’s president and the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa govern the region, and most Pakistani laws, including vital constitutional provisions, are still not applied in the impoverished restive region reeling from a decade of militancy and the subsequent military operations.
There is no need to run a tough campaign to seek votes for becoming a senator because there is no accountability, but still considerable funds are given to them along with the social status and that is why the rich, without a political background, make their way to the Senate.
Sources said that due to the indirect election of the senators, those from the lower and middle class could not think of becoming a senator, especially from FATA, because it is a game of money. It is extremely important to change the election procedure so that the senators could be elected through direct public votes to prevent horse-trading.
Electoral reforms are needed to ensure that the lawmakers are not tempted to sell their votes and the candidates who use money to come to power are stopped from becoming members of the Senate.