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February 22, 2008
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PPP ignores Seraiki women to favour urban elite Begums for reserved seats

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February 22, 2008

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ISLAMABAD: It might sound a serious joke but it is a shocking fact now. The PPP got 23 seats of the National Assembly from the Seraiki region of the southern Punjab, but instead of giving representation to the women of the area, the Begums of Islamabad and Lahore have been nominated by the party for the reserved seats.

While the PPP did not win many urban seats, the real sister of the Attorney General for Pakistan Justice Malik Qayyum has also been nominated on reserved seats for women, surprisingly for both the National and the Punjab Assemblies.

She is the sister of the same judge who had sentenced Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari on corruption charges under the pressure of the then prime minister and was then caught on tape and sacked.

She is not the only one who has been nominated both for the National and provincial assemblies on women seats. Many other privileged elite women also enjoy this exclusive status. The sister of AG was also an MNA from the PPP in the previous assembly and has once again retained her place.

The PPP bagged 23 seats from the districts like Muzaffargarh, Multan, Sahiwal, Vehari, Rajanpur, Bahawalnagar and Rahim Yar Khan. But, the list of the women shows that all those women who would reach the NA on the basis of vote from this region belong to Lahore and Islamabad or the central Punjab where the party performed poorly.

A total of about 20 women are set to reach parliament on the recommendation of the PPP on the basis of seats obtained in the elections but none of them even speaks Seraiki. The Seraiki region has always been bailing out the PPP, even in difficult times, and the party reached power corridors on the basis of electoral strength from this area populated by 40 million people.

The most disappointing thing for Seraiki women and the voters would be that two stalwarts of the party from the region, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, President Punjab and Yousaf Raza Gilani, senior vice chairman, were

holding important posts in the party when the list was finalised and both of them did not consider any woman worth naming from the Seraiki belt for parliament.

The list shows that PPP has just nominated one Punjabi speaking woman from Multan, Begum Nasim Akhtar Chaudhry, who was also an MNA during 2002-2007 and the party did not think about replacing her with some other dedicated worker from Seraiki region. Nasim never talked about any issue concerning the Seraiki women during these five years in parliament.

The most interesting inclusion in the list of women to reach parliament on women seats is Palwasha Behram, who emerged on the political scene hardly two years back but soon got popular among the party leaders and is set to reach parliament. Her nomination had generated controversy as she was served show-cause notice for some of her actions.

The list of the nominated women is given below along with their addresses to show where they belong: Rukhsana Bangash (48-KH-e-Eqbal F-7/2 Islamabad), Shahnaz Wazir Ali (85-Sarfraz Rafique Road Lahore Cantt), Palwasha Muhammad Zal (Post office Khas Tehsil and district Chakwal), Begum Hasnain (46, E-1, Gulberg-III Lahore), Mehreen Anwar Raja (71-A Shah Jamal, Lahore), Farzana Raja (Village Chak Rajgan Tehsil Gujjar Khan, district Rawalpindi), Justice (retd) Fakhrunnisa Khokar (A-40 CMA Colony Lahore Cantt), Fauzia Habib (18-E Saidpur Road, Rawalpindi), Shakeela Khanum Rasheed (189, Shadman-II, Lahore), Yasmeen Rehman (19-Shah Jamal, Lahore), Samina Mushtaq Pugganwala, (Pugganwala House, Gujrat), Nargis Faiz Malik (NE 1003 Gali No 5, Dhoke Hukam Dad, Rawalpindi), Dr Nagina Sadaf (HN 21/3 Munshi Mohalla, Mandi Bahauddin), Shabnam Waseem (60-X Phase-III, DHA Lahore), Nishat Afza (Chak No 391/JB, Toba Tek Singh), Uzma Fida Khawaja (258-D Peopleís Colony, Faisalabad) and Zarqa Butt (House No 33, St No 51, Islampura, Shahdara Lahore).

Talking to The News, PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said he did not know about the exact number of women nominated from Punjab and Seraiki region though he confirmed that the party had won 23 seats alone from this region. He did not agree that the elite women from Islamabad and Lahore were nominated to grab seats in parliament. Babar said there was a proper system for the nomination of women and it might have been followed by the party leaders at the time of nomination of those ladies.

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