UPPER DIR: In a constituency where women casting votes presents a rare sight in itself, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI’s) Hameeda Shahid is vying for an Upper Dir party ticket.
Buoyed by massive women turnout in the March 29 union council by-elections, Shahid has filed an application to the party parliamentary board as a potential Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly PK-10 contender. The PTI leader, who hails from Usheri Dara Samkot, has been campaigning for women’s rights alongside serving as the PTI’s provincial sports and cultural federation vice president.
A jewellery designer with outlets in Peshawar and Dubai, Shahid said she wanted to further the mission of her late grandfather Haji Muhammad Khan, an educationist and headmaster of a school, by ensuring the provision of education. The PTI leader played an active role in the 2013 general elections in Dir. In 2015, she was named the party’s Malakand Divison coordinator and tasked with constituting and supervising ten women committees for local government elections.
While seven other men are also vying for the party ticket, Shahid’s application is conspicuous by virtue of her being the first woman from the constituency to do so. Earlier, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) organised by-elections in Upper Dir after nullifying the December 2017 local government polls after local politicians reached a verbal understanding barring women from voting in UC Darora.
The ECP move allowed women to vote after the passage of four decades. According to the 2017 census, women constitute only 42 million of the nation’s 97 million registered voters. Many are not ‘allowed’ to exercise their constitutional right to vote, owing to the patriarchal setup of the areas they hail from.