ISLAMABAD - The otherwise united Fata parliamentarians in the National Assembly have faced split not because of disagreement over whom to vote for in the Senate election, but for the hefty offer of Rs 1 billion for a group of MNAs that would be required to vote for four powerful candidates on March 5.

The 11-member Fata parliamentary group in the lower house has virtually split into two groups with six independent MNAs on one side and five lawmakers of PML-N, PTI and JUI-F on the other.

With 36 candidates in the race for four Fata seats, the six independent Fata MNAs under their parliamentary leader GG Jamal were calling the shot regarding whom to vote for in the Senate election. But things changed overnight when Fata MNAs, Maulana Jamaluddin (JUI-F), Qaiser Jamal (PTI), Shahabuddin Khan (PML-N), Ghalib Wazir (PML-N) and Nazeer Khan (PML-N) formed their own group having Rs 1 billion in hand only to lure members of the opposite group to join them.

A Fata lawmaker told The Nation, seeking not to be named, that he had personally seen the amount of money wrapped in bags in a money change office.

He said the five-member group of Fata MPs would support four candidates – ex-Senator Abdur Raziq Afridi who is uncle of PTI Fata MNA Qaiser Jamal, ex-MNA Munir Orakzai, JUI-F’s Engr Rashid and Sanaullah Khan, nephew of PML-N MNA Ghalib Wazir.

Having the huge amount of money, the lawmaker claimed the group was tasked to lure the six-member group that includes MNAs Sajid Hussain Toori, GG Jamal, Nasir Khan, Bilal Rehman, Bismillah Khan and Shah Gi Gul Afridi.

Sources said the independent group of Fata MNAs has decided to support Malik Momin Khan, brother of MNA Nasir Khan, Taj Muhammad Afridi, brother of MNA Shah Gi Gul Afridi and Aurangzeb Khan Orakzai who belongs to Orakzai Agency.

Interestingly, though PTI has boycotted the session of the National Assembly and has refrained from casting votes in the Senate election in any assembly except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, PTI MNA Qaiser Jamal is all set to appear in the National Assembly on the polling day to cast vote for his uncle, Abdur Raziq Afridi.

“It is now game of Rs one billion. The rich group has been chasing our MNAs to woo them. Each member in the independent group of MNAs has been offered Rs 100 million. But the other side is offering much more,” the lawmaker told this reporter candidly.

He said some members in the independent group have been asked to have a glance at the bags of money to give them an assurance that they would get their share in return for casting vote for their candidates.

“In the history of the Senate election, I have never seen such a huge bargaining. I have lost my senses. There will also be other offers at the time of the Senate chairman election. I think the entire game is for the slot of the Senate chairman. PML-N wants two members from Fata at all cost,” he asserted.

On the other side, Senator Abbas Afridi is also interested in clinching the seat to retain his portfolio as the federal minister for textile, but the only hurdle he faces is Abdur Raziq Afridi who is in no mood of announcing his retirement.

“I think MNA Ghalib Wazir will convince his poor nephew Sanaullah Khan Wazir to surrender in favour of Senator Abbas Afridi. The lust is so attractive that one would not spare even a brother,” he added.