Around 3 million voters from the country's tribal districts will vote today (Saturday) to send their 16 representatives for the first time to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly after the merger of the erstwhile Fata with the province. According to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), 284 candidates - 83 on the tickets of different political and 201 as independent - are in run for 16 seats that have been given to the newly merged seven tribal districts, of which one seat has also been given to all ex-frontier regions through the 25th Constitutional Amendment in the Constitution. Polling will begin at 08:00 am and continue till 5:00 pm. without any break.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has fielded its candidates in almost all the provincial constituencies who will confront Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) 15, Awami National Party (ANP) 14, and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) 14 candidates on the 16 general seats. Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) has fielded 5 candidates, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) 13 and Quami Watan Party 3.
Two female candidates - Naheed Afridi of ANP from Khyber district and Malasa Bibi of JI from Kurram - are also in the run for the contest on the general seats. Another female candidate, Naila Altaf Turi, who had submitted her papers to contest from Kurram PK-109, however, did not pursue and withdrew.
The seats include PK-100 Bajaur-I, PK-101 Bajaur-II, PK-102 Bajaur-III, PK-103 Mohmand-I, PK-104 Mohmand-Il, PK-105 Khyber-I, PK-106 Khyber-II, PK-107 Khyber-III, PK-108 Kurram-I, PK-109 Kurram-II, PK-110 Orakzai, PK-111 North Waziristan-I, PK-112 North Waziristan-II, PK-113 South Waziristan-I, PK-114 South Waziristan-II, and PK-115 Ex-Frontier Regions.
In all seven tribal districts and one seat of ex-frontier regions, commentators predict a tough contest among the candidates of ruling PTI and independents followed by JUI-F while other political parties such as ANP, PML-N, PPP and JI are also flexing their muscles to get their share.
In PK-100 (Bajaur-I), PTI's Anwar Zeb will face a tough contest against his rivals Gul Afzal of the ANP and Israruddin Khan, son of former MNA Shahabuddin Khan.