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December 3, 2007

Marginal increase in female candidates for January polls


December 3, 2007


Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is in the forefront, followed by Pakistan Muslim League (PML), in awarding tickets to women on general seats for the January elections, while the overall number of prospective female runners has only marginally increased compared to 2002 polls.

In 2002 elections, 13 women were elected for non-reserved open seats in the 342-seat National Assembly including nine from Punjab, three from Sindh and one from Balochistan. This was the highest number elected on general seats in the country’s electoral history.

Sixty women were elected on reserved seats for women in the national legislature, raising to 73 the number of female lawmakers in the National Assembly. The quota remains the same for the next assembly.

Nine women contested in 1970 on general seats but only one was elected from Balochistan. In 1977, only one woman contested the elections in the NWFP on a general seat and won.

In the 1985 non-party elections, one out of 15 women who contested polls for the parliament won a seat. Three years later, only four women won seats in 1988 general elections, including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her mother Nusrat Bhutto.

The 1990 general elections saw only two women, Benazir and Nusrat Bhutto, winning out of 13 female candidates on general seats. In 1993 polls, only four women, again including the two from Bhutto family, won the elections, out of a total of 16 who contested. Six women out of 34 female candidates were victorious in the 1997 elections.

For the upcoming January 8 general elections, PPP has awarded tickets to 14 female candidates to contest on general seats in the National Assembly. PML has given party tickets to seven female candidates to run on general seats in the upcoming elections.

PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto will contest in Larkana in NA 204 and NA 207. PML’s Sumaira Malik will run in NA-69 Khushab-I, where she has a strong political

background. She was elected to the National Assembly from Khushab in 2002 on a general seat, defeating Malik Irfan Ahmad of PPP.

PPP’s Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, who recently joined PPP after leaving PML, will run against National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain. Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho of PPP, sister of Asif Ali Zardari, will take part in the elections from NA 213 (Nawabshah I) where Shaukat Ali Shah of PML is also in the run. She had won from Nawabshah in 2002, bagging 75,237 votes.

PPP’s Dr Fehmida Mirza, Information Secretary of PPP Sindh, will run from NA 225 (Badin II) where another female candidate, Yasmin Shah of PML, will contest against her. The seasoned politician is wife of Dr Zulfikar Ali Mirza and sister of former MNA and secretary general APNS, Qazi Asad Abid.

Syeda Abida Hussain has locked horns with former federal minister and PML candidate Faisal Saleh Hayat in NA 88 (Jhang III). Both are cousins and traditional arch rivals in politics in Jhang. She remained MPA during 1972-77, MNA during 1985-88, 1988-90, 1990-93, 1997-99, and also served as the federal minister.

Hina Rabbani Khar is contesting from NA 177 (Muzaffargarh II) on PPP ticket after parting ways with PML. One of the youngest entrants into the political arena in 2002, she defeated then her cousins, Shahnawaz Khar and Malik Basit Khar. She is daughter of Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar, who could not run in 2002 because of the graduation condition.

Mrs Shamshad Sattar Bachani, wife of Ex-MNA Abdul Sattar Bachani is in the electoral contest on the ticket of PPP in NA 223 (Hyderabad VI) where she will be facing another female candidate Abida Gul of PML.

PPP’s Samina Khalid Ghurki, wife of former MNA Khalid Ghurki who was out of the race due to graduation condition in the 2002 elections, is contesting against PML’s Ashiq Dayal in NA 130 (Lahore XIII).

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