History in the making as erstwhile FATA goes to polls tomorrow | Pakistan Today

History in the making as erstwhile FATA goes to polls tomorrow

–285 candidates, including two women, are in the run for elections

–1,671,308 men, 1,130,529 women to exercise right to vote

ISLAMABAD: The stage is set for the first-ever elections in the merged tribal districts where around 2.801 million registered voters will exercise their right to vote for electing 16 lawmakers in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly on Saturday.

Almost all parties have fielded their candidates for the constituencies as the political activities have gained pace in the region.

It is worth mentioning here that four women will be indirectly elected to the assembly while a minority lawmaker would be elected on quota basis. Women candidates are contesting from Khyber and Kurram districts for the general seats.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has completed all necessary arrangements in Khyber, Bajaur, Mohmand, Kurram, Orakzai, North Waziristan and South Waziristan and frontier regions. The commission said that 1,671,308 men and 1,130,529 women voters are expected to cast their votes on Saturday. Pakistan Army would be deployed outside all polling stations in the region for the protection of voters.

The government has expressed resolve to spend billions of rupees in the next 10 years for the development of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the uplift of the local population in order to bring them at par with the citizens of the other areas of the country and to remove any sense of deprivation among them.

The region remained troubled for over a decade ever since the so-called war on terror started. While thousands of terrorists were killed, millions of dollars in foreign currency recovered and explosives seized, the civilians too suffered the brunt of the war.

In order to sustain the hard-earned peace, the state has also started the fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. This would aid in preventing illegal cross-border movement and bring the drug trade to a halt. The fencing of the 2,611-kilometre border is expected to be completed by 2020 whereas 643 kilometres – 462 kilometres in KP and 181 kilometres in Balochistan – have been covered so far. 843 border posts are planned, out of which 233 have been completed while the construction of 140 posts is underway.

It merits mention here that owing to improvement in the security situation in the region, the number of check posts has also decreased by 31 per cent in the past three years, resulting in growing trade. Roads have been improved to improve connectivity with other areas of the country.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]

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