ISLAMABAD - As the countdown for Senate election has begun, lawmakers from the Fata in National Assembly have engaged in intensive negotiations and are still undecided over the final nomination of the four candidates that will make to the upper house from the tribal region early next March.

Lobbying for the four seats for Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) that will fall vacant in March had begun almost a month ago. Unlike the other candidates, who would require support of dozens of MPAs (52 MPAs to elect one senator in case of Punjab), a senator from Fata would require votes of only two MNAs.

There are 12 NA seats for Fata but presently there are 11 MNAs from the area as election has yet to be held in Orakzai Agency while MNA Qaiser Jamal could also abstain from the senate vote owing to decision of PTI to stay away from National Assembly.

Background discussion with Fata MNAs revealed that the wealthy members in Afridi tribe were eying to woe the lawmakers for getting the entire four seats. Two members of Afridi tribe, Federal Textile Minister Senator Abbas Khan Afridi, who is retiring in March, and former minister of state Razzaq Afridi are strong contenders.

The Nation learnt reliably that Fata lawmakers had agreed on names of the candidates that would be supported in Senate election but suddenly a mouth watering offer from wealthy members of Afridi clan triggered them to have a second thought about their decision a week ago.

The anxiety among Fata MNAs could be judged from the fact the 10 MNAs could be seen moving from one seat in National Assembly to another whispering into ears of fellow MNAs and then moving away from the house in order to gather again in Parliament's cafeteria.

The senators who would retire in March include Abbas Khan Afridi, Haji Khan Afridi, Engr Malik Rasheed Khan and Idrees Khan Safi. According to insiders, Afridis would get lion’s share in the four vacant seats and it was possible that all the four are occupied by Afridis.

But Engr Malik Rasheed Khan, who hails from Kurram Agency, and Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi are also serious contenders for the slots. According to some, Engr Rasheed could lose the ticket keeping in view the lucrative offers by some other Afridis.

Interestingly, some Fata MNAs who could be usually seen clad in traditional shalwar qameez, have nowadays got into three piece designers suits and some embarking on Sindh trips for hunting partridges.

"Their (MNAs) life standard has changed overnight. They look impressive these days although they used to pose a humble look earlier. They are quite happy," an informed insider told this reporter on Tuesday.

The source however added that some of them seemed divided along ethnic lines showing grudges that candidates from other tribal clans should also be given the chance instead of one particular tribe.

A week back, it was unanimous decision of the Fata lawmakers that the four candidates would belong to Kurram Agency, Khyber Agency and Frontier Region (FR) in order to give equal representation to members of all tribes. But the interest of powerful members of Afridi tribe, according to reliable sources, have changed the game.