The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) awarded tickets to 12 women on Sunday to contest the elections on general seats. Seven of them are from Karachi, and they are being fielded in constituencies within Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) strongholds, where the PPP has a weak vote bank.
All political parties are obliged to award party tickets to women for at least five per cent of the general seats of the national and provincial assemblies they are contesting for. The PPP has a history of fielding women in direct elections, and the party’s list of national and provincial assembly candidates issued on Sunday contains names of 12 female candidates who will face off their rivals on July 25.
Other political parties, such as the MQM-Pakistan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and the Pakistan Muslim League’s Functional and Nawaz factions, are yet to issue their final candidate lists.
A look at the PPP’s final list of female candidates reveals that five of them who are contesting from different parts of rural Sindh are seasoned politicians, who previously have either contested on general seats or were elected on reserved seats for women. All of them are also relatives of influential party leaders and are in a strong position to win the seats.
They include PPP-Parliamentarians President Asif Ali Zardari’s two sisters, Faryal Talpur and Azra Fazal Pechuho, who are contesting for the provincial assembly seats PS-10 (Larkana) and PS-27 (Shaheed Benazirabad) respectively. Faryal became an MNA in the general elections of 2008 and 2013. She also served as district mayor in 2001.
It was reported earlier that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s sister Aseefa Bhutto Zardari will also contest for a provincial assembly seat, but her name is not on the list. Some party leaders, however, said she may contest from Lyari in a by-election if it was won and withdrawn by his brother.
Nafisa Shah, a central PPP leader and former district mayor, is contesting from Khairpur’s NA-208 constituency. She is a daughter of former provincial chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah.
Shazia Atta Marri, another experienced parliamentarian of the PPP, is again contesting from District Sanghar’s NA-216. She won the constituency in 2013 from the Hur Jamaat, which, under the leadership of the Pir Pagara, has not lost NA-235 since the 1970s.
Her father Ata Muhammad Marri was an MNA and a deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly. In the general elections of 2002 and 2008, she became an MPA on a reserved seat for women.
The PPP has also awarded a ticket to Shamsun Nisa Memon, who is contesting from Thatta’s NA-232. In a by-election, she had defeated Riaz Hussain Shah Shirazi, a member of the powerful Shirazi group of Thatta.
The PPP has awarded tickets to seven candidates from Karachi, but instead of fielding them in the party’s stronghold Malir and South districts, they have been asked to contest from Korangi, Central and West districts, where the party has a weak vote bank.
Former Sindh Assembly deputy speaker Syeda Shehla Raza, who has been affiliated with the party since her student life, was awarded a ticket to contest for NA-243 (District East), where she will face off PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
The PPP has also fielded Naz Baloch, a former key leader of the PTI, in PS-127 (District Central). Daughter of the PPP’s former provincial minister Abdullah Baloch, she had contested the 2013 elections on a general seat from the then NA-240 on a PTI ticket and secured the second highest number of votes. She joined the PPP in July 2017.
According to sources within the PPP, she was interested in District West’s PS-114, a constituency comprising areas of Trans-Lyari, but the party awarded a ticket to Mir Talib Brohi for the seat and asked her to file her nomination form for PS-127.
The party has fielded Shamim Mumtaz, former adviser to chief minister for social welfare and an MPA on a reserved seat for women, in PS-124 (District Central). Dr Shahida Rehmani, who served as an MNA on a reserved seat for women from 2013 to 2018, will try her luck in PS-118 (District West). The party has fielded Anjum Nazeer, Gul-e-Rana and Rabia Abbasi in District Korangi’s PS-93, PS-94 and PS-95 respectively. All of them are little-known party workers.
The Sindh Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW) has asked political parties to field their female candidates in the constituencies where they have a high probability of winning.
SCSW Chairperson Nuzhat Shirin said that according to Section 206, Chapter XI of the Election Act 2017, all parties are bound to give at least five per cent tickets to female candidates for general seats.
“Firstly, the political parties should field women in their strongholds, where they can win easily,” she told The News. “Secondly, the parties should fully cooperate with the female candidates in their electoral campaigns so they are able to win.”
She said that after the 18th amendment, the commission has been working on an amendment in the Political Parties Act at the provincial level to ensure women’s participation in electoral politics and decision-making bodies.