ISLAMABAD - Despite security concerns, tribesmen from Fata are geared up to elect their representatives at par with other countrymen from the settled areas first time in free, fair and transparent elections scheduled for May 11.

Background discussions and interviews with voters and candidates in the Fata revealed high enthusiasm among voters in the area, courtesy to the extension of the Political Parties Act to the restive region that remained under insurgency by extremist forces. “There is high degree of enthusiasm among the voters and candidates in Fata.

Imagine there are nearly fifty candidates contesting elections against each other in North Waziristan Agency,” PML-Q Senior Vice President Ajmal Wazir told TheNation on Friday.

Wazir, who himself is candidate for a National Assembly and a Provincial Assembly seats from Dera Ismail Khan, said his party has awarded tickets to four candidates from various agencies of Fata, adding all the mainstream political parties have fielded their candidates respectively.

Various major political parties, including PPP, PML-N, PTI, PML-Q, JUI (F) and Jammat-e-Islami are actively taking part in the elections from Fata for 12 seats for the National Assembly.

But the number of independent candidates trying their luck from their respective regions in Fata was higher than the party backed candidates.

However, the situation would be clearer after completion of the scrutiny process and after final list of candidates compiled by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on April 18.

Interestingly, Badam Zari, a woman candidate breaking the tribal taboos, has also filed her nomination papers from Bajaur Agency.

There are nearly 12, 55, 000 registered voters from seven agencies, including Bajaur, Mohmond, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurrum, North and South Waziristan agencies, who would elect their representatives through ballot.

Previously, only handful influential tribal chieftains used to take part in elections, which brought bad name to Fata because of open sale of votes.

All the MPs in the last National Assembly, who were elected as independents, have also joined different political parties and are contesting elections on their tickets.

“The Election Commission has taken major steps to ensure peaceful elections in the Fata,” a senior ECP official said, adding that special arrangements have been made for the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) because of the security situation.

The official said that special polling stations for IDPs in their camps are being set up to facilitate the voters from various agencies especially from Khyber, Waziristan and Orakzai agencies.

Apart from development issues, the candidates mostly from the religious parties have highlighting failure of the United States to honour its commitment to establish Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs).

The issues of drone strikes and ROZs would come into spot during the election campaign of the candidates which the observers believed would further increase anti- US sentiments in Fata regions.