PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has emerged as the major political force in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the July 25 elections by bagging six of the total 12 National Assembly seats.

Like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI routed major political parties, including the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Jamaat-i-Islami, which had a strong vote bank in the tribal belt.

Unofficial results suggested that the PTI had won two NA seats from Bajaur, one from Mohmand, two from Khyber and one from Orakzai tribal district.

Analyst attributes party’s victory to Imran’s charisma, campaign against US drone hits

The PTI’s three candidates remained runners-up while it had not field candidate against Ali Wazir on NA-50 who won this seat. The Pakistan Peoples Party won one seat; Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl bagged three seats while two independents were also elected.

The Jamaat-i-Islami and JUI-F were humbled in their traditional constituencies, including Bajaur, Mohmand, North and Orakzai districts. Some tribal chieftains, who used to win polls on the basis of their wealth, also bit the dust at the hands of the PTI’s election nominees.

Former governor Engineer Shaukatullah, his brother Senator Hidayatullah and former MNA Shahabuddin Khan were defeated by the PTI candidates in Bajaur district.

The PTI had awarded tickets to its diehard activist in NA-40, NA-41, NA-42, and NA-44, who pulled the rug from under the feet of filthy rich candidates in Mohmand, Khyber and Bajaur districts.

Before the extension of the Political Parties Order, 2002, to the region, the candidates affiliated with the JUI-F, JI and other religious groups were elected indicating the popularity of religious parties.

The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) had indirectly secured seven seats from Fata in the 2002 general elections.

The JUI-F had a solid vote bank in South Waziristan and North Waziristan. The MMA had swept polls in Bajaur, Mohmand, North Waziristan and South Waziristan.

Similarly, the PTI also turned the table on nationalist forces like Awami National Party and Qaumi Watan Party. Despite vigorously fighting the case of merger of Fata with KP in and outside parliament, both parties were completely wiped out from entire tribal region.

Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies director Dr Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi said the PTI chief’s charisma and campaign against the US drone strikes in Fata were the major reasons for the PTI’s victory in tribal region.

“I think Imran’s campaign against drone attacks played a major role in the PTI’s victory in Fata,” he said.

Dr Hussain said the people of Fata, particularly youths, could not forget when Imran slept atop the container in Peshawar during his party’s campaign against the US drone attacks.

He said the youths of Fata had realised that Imran Khan was forward looking and only he (Imran) could end economic backwardness of the region after merger with the province. The expert said the Fata-KP merger was one aspect in which all political parties, excluding the JUI-F, played a major role.

“After merger, economic development of the area is very important and that’s why visionary youths of Fata have voted for the PTI to end their economic deprivation,” he said.

Another analyst from Bajaur district said the people had fed up with the behaviour of traditional ‘electables’ and therefore, they voted for the PTI.

He said voters rejected traditional electables and gave chance to the PTI to represent them in the National Assembly.

The analyst said the PTI did proper homework before elections to mobilise voters and held youth conventions in Peshawar and Islamabad for the purpose.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2018