Tribal leaders fear militants may influence polls in FATA

November 29th, 2007 - 2:07 pm ICT by admin  

Peshawar, Nov 29 (ANI): Tribal leaders in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have expressed apprehensions that the role of militant organisations here would seriously affect the January 8 general elections.

You can imagine how I am canvassing while sitting in my home because I cannot go out due to security concerns, said Shahbuddin Khan, a former nationalist leader and Pakistan Muslim League (Q) candidate for NA-44 Bajaur, adding, Jihadi elements will certainly influence my election result.

Former Member of the National Assembly (MNA) and Pakistan Peoples Party Khyber Agency leader Malik Waris Khan said that Islamists would win maximum seats here as the environment is conducive for their victory.

Endorsing these views, tribal elder Asad Afridi, a resident of Landikotal in Khyber Agency, said that candidates having the blessings of militant commanders could easily win the polls.

People will vote for the favourite candidates of Lashkar-e-Islam chief Mangal Bagh, the Daily Times quoted him, as saying.

Militants will ensure that Taliban-sympathising candidates win the elections, said a candidate from NA-41 (South Waziristan) on the condition of anonymity.

Interestingly, no woman candidate has filed her nomination papers from any tribal district. Moreover, Mangal has imposed his own code of conduct for candidates in Khyber Agency by banning hoisting of party flags and taking out of processions.

According to former FATA security chief Brig. (r) Mehmood Shah, the Taliban would not disturb the polls, rather they will help like-minded candidates to win.

The Taliban need political support in Parliament. One case is of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who has been criticising military operations against the Taliban on various occasions. The JUI-F is the political face of Islamic militancy, Shah said.

On October 30, Maulana Bashir Ahmed, a candidate from NA-43 (Bajaur) seat and the cousin of Taliban Bajaur chief Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, told a gathering that he was not against the polls.

Twelve parliamentarians will be elected to the National Assembly from seven tribal districts and one frontier region constituency after the January 8 polls. In the 2002 elections, the Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) won seven seats from Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, South and North Waziristan agencies. (ANI)

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