LANDI KOTAL: The residents of Tirah valley have given encouraging response to the candidates for National Assembly constituency comprising Bara-cum-Tirah areas of Khyber Agency.
Sources in the picturesque valley bordering Afghanistan, Kurram and Orakzai agencies told Dawn that travelling to the valley for candidates was made easy with the recent opening of the newly built 110 kilometres Sheen Qamar-Bagh Maidan road.
Prior to opening of the new road, Tirah residents and those travelling to the region from outside would use the long and more tiring Kohat-Hangu-Orakzai approach to the valley. The new road has cut short the travel from six hours by almost half with the security forces also showing leniency at the checkposts along the new route.
At least five aspirants including Shah Faisal and Iqbal Afridi of Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan Tehrik Insaf respectively and independent candidates Hameedullah Jan Afridi, Haji Maroof and Mohammad Shah have paid visit to the region alongside holding corner meetings and traditional jirgas with their electorates.
Candidates for NA seat get encouraging response in the area
Sources said that the candidates were accorded warm welcome at the valley while residents attended their campaign gatherings in sizable numbers.
Bazzar Gul Afridi, a senior political activist, said that people of Tirah were taking the election campaign seriously and were showing political maturity. He said that Tirah people were anxious to know about the merits and demerits of Fata merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa along with showing keen interest in manifestoes of candidates about the development of their area.
Mr Gul recently paid a visit to Tirah along with former MNA Hameedullah Jan Afridi and said that local tribesmen were unanimous in their demand for more development schemes as the area was without proper health and education facilities.
He said that the area faced shortage of drinking water, lacked electricity and had meagre resources of livelihood.
Ali Akhtar, a young social activist, who also paid a visit to the region in recent days, told Dawn that he too was ‘amazed’ by the sudden rise in political maturity of Tirah residents.
He said that nearly five years of displacement had made the Tirah people more aware about their legitimate rights. “They are now more socialised. They took active part in registration of votes for the upcoming general elections,” he added. Majority of Tirah residents were away from their homes during the 2013 general elections due to military operations.
Meanwhile, officials of Election Commission of Pakistan in Jamrud told Dawn that number of registered voters increased to 75,529 from the previous total number of 30,819 in 2013, thus showing a total of 42,710 new registered votes.
They said that like rest of the areas in Khyber Agency, in Tirah valley too women voters registered a healthy sign with their total tally reaching 31,102 in 2018 from a mere 7,112 prior to general elections in 2013.
They said that 23,999 more women voters were registered in the new registration campaign in Tirah valley in comparison to 20,720 new male voters.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018