ISLAMABAD - Four Fata seats in Senate have attracted 43 aspirants from the volatile tribal areas, much bigger number of candidates than those nominated by four provinces that each will elect at least 11 new senators on March 5.

According to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) data, the four vacant seats for Fata in the upper house have triggered maximum participation of aspirants in the polls.

Balochistan emerges to be the second in terms of filing of maximum number of nomination papers where 42 aspirants are vying for the 12 vacant seats followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where 39 candidates have filed their nomination papers.

In Punjab, the biggest province, a total of 23 nominations have been filed for the 11 seats. In Sindh, 28 candidates are contesting while nine candidates are vying for the two vacant seats from Federal Area of Islamabad. Interestingly, Muttahida Qaumi Movement having 51 members in Sindh Assembly has nominated 14 candidates, more than Pakistan People’s Party that has filed 11 nominations despite having 91 members in the provincial assembly.

Unlike other provinces where much more number of votes will be required for winning any given seat – for example 52.5 MPAs would vote for electing a single Senator on general seats in Punjab – candidate for a Fata seat has requires just two votes from Fata MNAs for success, and this explains why so many candidates have applied for so few seats.

Informed sources told The Nation that majority of the 43 Fata Senate aspirants are filthy rich who are extending mouth-watering offers to MNAs to secure their votes. “It means 11 Fata MNAs have to cast vote for just four candidates out of the 43 candidates. Just imagine the scale of offers that would have been made,” a source said.

He said that the offers given by aspirants from Fata to MNAs were so huge that they created fissures among Fata lawmakers, who a month back had agreed on whom to vote. “Imagine somebody offers you one buffalo for a task and then another person emerges who offers you 20 buffaloes for the same thing,” he explained when asked about what exactly has been offered to the Fata MNAs.

Interestingly, MNA Ghalib Wazir from North Waziristan whose brother Sanaullah Khan is candidate for Senate seat, failed to convince his fellow lawmaker for supporting his brother in the election. “The MNA wanted to get votes for his brother ‘free of cost’. And he got a ‘No’ in response,” a Fata lawmaker told this reporter.

According to ECP, the candidates can announce their withdrawal on February 28 while the scrutiny of nomination papers would be done on February 19-20.

CEC CHAIRS MEETING ABOUT NEW CNIC HOLDERS: Meanwhile a meeting of the ECP was held on Monday under the chairmanship of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza and attended by four members Justices (r) Muhammad Roshan Essani, Riaz Kayani, Shazad Akbar Khan and Fazal-ur-Rehman. The meeting was also attended by Nadra Chairman Usman Yousaf Mobin.

They discussed the matter regarding update/synchronisation and revision of electoral rolls in general and for the forthcoming local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular.

After due deliberation, the commission decided to initiate arrangements for inclusion of names of new NIC holders entitled to be enrolled as voters and exclusion of voters who have become disqualified due to death, nationality surrender or cancelled NICs etc. The same exercise will also be carried out in Punjab and Sindh after completion of delimitation exercise there, and also in Balochistan where local bodies’ elections have already been carried out.

Approximately 7.8 million new CNICs, issued by Nadra after general elections 2013, will be included into the Electoral Rolls and there are around 0.5 million or more deceased and disqualified voters who need to be excluded from the Rolls. Initially, 1.2 million voters will be included in the KPK Electoral Rolls out of 7.8 million new NIC holders in order that no new NIC holder from KPK is disenfranchised during KPK LG elections.