KP women putting up a challenge in polls


Contrary to norms, the number of women candidates contesting on general seats for both National and provincial assemblies is on the rise all over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). So much so, that for the first time in tribal history, a female is contesting polls from Bajaur Agency, where she is facing 21 other male candidates.
During the nomination process, around 42 females filed papers for National and provincial assembly seats throughout KP. At present, at least 20 are in run while the remaining have either withdrawn papers or have been declared unfit for polls owing to various reasons. Amongst the 20 that are still in the run, five have remained members of parliament (MP) in the previous government on reserved seats.
Dr Faiza Rashid from Haripur and film star Mussarrat Shaheen are contesting elections on general seats for the second time whereas the remaining are new comers.
Two female candidates including Syeda Gulnaar Shah and Sajida Tabbassum are contesting polls from the constituency PK-53 Mansehra. Both of them are challenging ex-provincial minister Shuja Salim Khan.
Since Pakistan’s inception, Benazir Bhutto, Begum Nusrat Bhutto, Begum Sharin Wahab, Kulsoom Saifullah, Bilqees Minallah, Begum Nasim Wali Khan, Ghazala Tanoli and several others have contested polls on general seats and almost of them were successful. However, these elected women belonged to influential families.
Following allocation of reserved seats, women from common families got access to the parliament.
Former MPs now contesting polls on general seats include Shazia Aurangzeb and Khurshid Begum who are contesting polls for National Assembly seats. Shazia Aurangzeb recently switched over from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) whereas Khurshid Begum is contesting on an Awami National Party (ANP) ticket. Shazia Aurangzeb is challenging former chief minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti and former federal minister Nawabzada Khawaja Mohammad Khan Hoti on NA-9 Mardan. Khurshid Begum is also facing a number of male candidates on NA-14 Kohat, including PPP’s Dilawar Shah and PML-N’s Malik Asad. Dilawar Shah was elected on an ANP ticket in 2008 but recently he switched over to PPP. Erum Fatima is contesting polls from NA-19 on an ANP ticket where she faces Sardar Mushtaq, Omar Ayub Khan and Pir Alamzeb Shah who are strong candidates.
Other female candidates who are contesting for National Assembly seats include TV journalist Aneela Shaheen from NA-4 Peshawar, Najma Zeb from NA-7 Charsada, Dr Shaheen Zameer from NA-21 Mansehra, Asma Mehmood from NA-31 Chitral and Nusrat Begum from NA-34 Upper Dir. Najma Zeb of Qaumi Watan Party is challenging ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and while Mussarat Shaheen is challenging JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman.
Female candidates for provincial seats include Yasmeen Sheerazi from PK-3 Peshawar, Dilruba Yousafzai from PK-15 Nowshehra, Farrukh Khan from PK-41 Abbottabad, Dr Faiza Rashid from PK-50 Haripur, Syeda Gulnaar Shah from PK-53 Haripur, Rashida Bibi from PK-56 Mansehra, Gul Daana Bibi from PK-68 Tank, Hazrat Bibi from PK-72 Bannu and Asma Mehmood from PK-89 Chitral.