PTI’s Hameeda Shahid first woman to contest polls from Upper Dir


PESHAWAR: Hameeda Shahid is all set to contest elections for a provincial assembly seat from Upper Dir of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), a region which is not only considered a stronghold of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) but from where women were not allowed to cast votes from till 2017.

She is contesting polls from Pak 10, Upper Dir on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) ticket and is the second woman nominated by the party on general seats from KP after Zahida Sabeel.

Upper Dir  is a northern mountainous region, adjacent to Chitral and Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. Since the merger of formerly princely states of Dir, Swat and Chitral, this area is considered a political stronghold of JI. However, other parties such as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) also field candidates in this region but barring the PPP, ANP and JUI-F never succeeded in wining elections.

In addition, PPP candidates emerged victorious each time JI pursued boycott.  In the 1997 and 2008 general elections, JI remained on boycott thereby enabling PPP to win maximum seats from Dir. The emergence of PTI is likely to cause wide ranging political reshuffling in the region as it nominated candidates on all National and Provincial Assembly seats.

Associated with PTI since 2011, Hameeda Shahid was named as its female sports wing provincial organiser in 2013. She had also unsuccessfully contested polls on a female reserve seat for Tehsil Councilor.

However, during her association with PTI, Hameeda focused her efforts on gaining party ticket for a parliamentary seat. She belongs to a middle class family and her father is a businessman by profession.

Women’s rights activist Rukhshanda Naaz appreciated Hameeda Shahid for her courage for contesting from Upper Dir.

Naaz said that election campaign and collecting of votes will be difficult for Hameeda Shahid in Dir region where women were previously denied their political and constitutional rights but that “Hameeda’s decision to contest has broken the myths developed by leaders of certain political parties and government officials regarding female reluctance in casting votes. Now that it has been proven that women want to contest against male candidates, it follows that women are also willing to cast votes and participate in the political process.”

Naaz added that she would like to see competition between female candidates on general seats which would encourage women.

In the upcoming general elections, a number of political parties such as the PPP and ANP also nominated female candidates on general seats in various districts of KP.


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