[QODLink]
Pakistan Elections

FATA: An election unlike any other

For residents of Pakistan's unstable tribal areas, this election is shaping up to be unlike any in the past.

Last Modified: 06 May 2013 18:58
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other armed groups hold sway over large swathes of FATA [EPA]

It may be hard to imagine, but the democratic franchise of "one-person, one-vote" was only granted to the residents of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in 1997. The area has been governed under archaic laws, most dating back to the time of the British Raj.

Historically, government postings in the region were prized and immensely lucrative, due to the trade routes that would cut through these areas. In the 1980s, with the Afghan War against the Soviet Union and the influx of drugs, guns and, later, supplies to US forces in neighbouring Afghanistan, the trade routes continued to thrive. Various players - including local tribal leaders, Pakistani state representatives and foreign players - have remained invested in preserving the status quo in FATA, and preventing accountable governance from taking root.

 

The 2013 general election will be the first time that FATA will see a poll where political parties are legally allowed to canvas and campaign as they do elsewhere in the country. It would be a stretch, however, to suggest that this will be a normal election. Much as they are in settled areas, moderate and liberal parties are hamstrung by the sustained threats from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in FATA.

The parties also face the task of reaching out to a large number displaced people from the region - by one estimate, one of out of four people from the Orakzai agency are currently internally displaced people (IDPs).  

Traditionally, members of parliament from the region have been independents, and tended to support whichever government was in power, in order to have access to patronage of state resources. With political parties now active in the region, however, any government in Islamabad will be unable to rely on the support of FATA independents. Another striking feature of this election is the sheer number of candidates per constituency - there are, for example, 40 candidates for NA-36, a constituency in Mohmand Agency, while the national average is between 10 and 20 candidates per constituency.

With the introduction of free campaigning and the entry of political parties proper into the race, as well as the large numbers of independents, it is clear that old electoral trends may no longer hold. What they are to be replaced by, however, remains to be seen.

The writer is the founder of the website Qissa Khwani and tweets under @qissakhwani.

418

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.

Featured
A former rebel's museum keeps alive memories of the July 26, 1953 veterans who launched Cuba's revolution.
A revolutionary new treatment is halving hospitalisation rates for severe asthma sufferers.
More than fifty years of an armed struggle for independence from Spain might be coming to an end in the Basque Country.
Human rights and corporate responsibility prompt a US church to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
After the shooting-down of flight MH17, relatives ask what the carrier has learned from still-missing MH370.
join our mailing list