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PESHAWAR: Political parties have been in the habit of ignoring southern districts in granting cabinet slots in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, but this neglect was also evident in the recently-held Senate election as most of the Senators-elect belonged to the Peshawar valley.

There have been voices rising from within the local chapters of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf that its government has placed much of its attention on the central districts.

The Senate election is no exception where the PTI and its coalition parties awarded tickets to people in the central districts. Newly-elected Senators Mohsin Aziz, Nauman Wazir and retired Brig Williams belonged to Peshawar. Liaquat Khan Tarakai is from Swabi, while Shibli Faraz hails from Kohat but lives in Islamabad.

Khanzada Khan, who was elected Senator on the Pakistan Peoples Party ticket, belonged to Mardan, one of the districts of Peshawar valley which also had the lion’s share in the provincial government.

Samina Abid of PTI is the only woman Senator from Hazara. Again, Sitara Ayaz, a new Senator of Awami National Party, is from Swabi. Shahram Khan Tarakai of the same district holds the portfolio of health in his capacity as senior minister in the provincial cabinet.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar is also a resident of Swabi district.

Sirajul Haq made it to the Upper House in the election held on March 5 not because of his being a resident of Dir, a backward district of Malakand, but due to his influence as the chief of Jamaat-i-Islami.

The case of Maulana Attarur Rehman who was elected from Dera Ismail Khan is similar to that of Sirajul Haq as he is the brother of JUI-F head Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Lack of focus on the less developed regions by political parties has drawn some criticism in the past, but to no avail.

Nearly all political parties have kept their tradition of awarding tickets and cabinet slots to the people from the central districts of the province in the just-concluded Senate polls.

Before the Senate election, it was widely believed that the PTI Malakand region president, Abdul Malik, will get the Senate ticket, but the party which had won six of the total seven provincial assembly seats and two National Assembly seats from Malakand in 2013 general election ignored the region.

PTI’s local leaders say that there is heartburn among the people over the distribution of Senate tickets, but they can’t push with protests because masses have no role in electing the Senate members as opposed to the direct election of the national and provincial assemblies where they are bitterly entrenched to show their disapproval of wrong candidates.

With a few exceptions, the political parties have been nominating their leaders for Senate election who couldn’t do will in direct election for the assemblies. The Senators required votes from the assembly members while the MPAs and MNAs have to run aggressive campaigns before polls. Directly-elected lawmakers are accountable to their electorates while the Senators don’t have any contact with the people.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2015

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