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July 18, 2019

July 20 election in merged districts: ANP, JI to field women candidates for general seats


July 18, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Awami National Party (ANP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) are the only political parties that have fielded female candidates to contest for the general seats in the forthcoming election for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly seats in the merged districts.

According to the Provincial Election Commission, a total of 297 candidates are contesting the election including two women candidates, Naheed Afridi of ANP and Malasa Bibi of the JI.

Naheed Afridi is among the 59 candidates contesting election for three provincial assembly seats in Khyber district. The seats include PK-105, PK-106 and PK-107. Malasa Bibi is among the 53 candidates who are in the run for two seats, PK-108 and PK-109, in Kurram district. It wasn’t possible to talk to Malasa Bibi. Her husband picked up the phone and said she was campaigning and didn’t have a mobile phone. He also declined to provide any information about his wife, her political and educational background and her election programme. From his attitude, one could get the impression that Malasa Bibi wasn’t a serious contender for the seat in the presence of the 22 male contestants. Naheed Afridi who is a candidate for PK-106 Khyber, did her Masters in Philosophy from the University of Peshawar in 2001.

Talking to this scribe, Naheed Afridi said though it was challenging to run for a general seat from the conservative Khyber district, she would still give a tough time to her male opponents. She pointed out that ANP was a progressive party and did not discriminate against women on the basis of their gender.

“I was awarded the party ticket so that I could work and raise voice for the rights of the women,” she added. “Contesting election in the male-dominated society, particularly in the tribal districts is a tough job, but I have accepted this challenge. I am running my election campaign with the help of my relatives and party workers,” she said.

She said she would help provide basic facilities including education, healthcare, drinking water and employment to the people of Khyber.

Naheed Afridi said it was necessary for tribal women to participate in political activities and raise voices for their rights. “Initially the local people did not support me, but now they were helping me and joining my election campaign to seek the support of more voters,” she said.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the election is being held on July 20 for the 16 general seats in the merged districts. After the amendment to Article 106 of the Constitution, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly has a total of 145 seats, including 115 general seats, 26 reserved for women and four for minorities. The merged districts from former Fata would have 21 seats in the provincial assembly, including four reserved for women and one for the minorities. Bajaur and Khyber would have three general seats each in the provisional assembly, Mohmand, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan have two seats each, while Orakzai and the Frontier Regions were given one seat each. As many as 39 candidates are contesting the election for three seats, including PK-100, PK-101 and PK-102 in Bajaur.

A total of 32 candidates are running for the two general seats — PK-103 and PK-104 in Mohmand.

Some 24 candidates are running for PK-110 in Orakzai. A total of 39 candidates are contesting for PK-111 and PK-112 in North Waziristan. Besides, 41 candidates are in the run for PK-113 and PK-114 in South Waziristan while 10 candidates are vying for PK-115 comprising the former Frontier Regions.

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