PESHAWAR: As the ruling PTI announced names for a new 15-member provincial cabinet late on Sunday, the list failed to include any woman or member of any of the religious minorities in the province.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan finalised the names of the provincial cabinet and assigned portfolios to them.
But the omission of women from the K-P assembly — for a second consecutive parliamentary term — has raised eyebrows.
In the last K-P assembly, of the 21-member cabinet, there was no woman. One has to go all the way back to the 2008 elections when the cabinet included Awami National Party’s (ANP) reserved seat parliamentarian Sitara Ayaz with the portfolio of social welfare.
Shabina Ayaz, the resident director of the Aurat Foundation, told The Express Tribune that they had very serious concerns about the lack of women representation in the new provincial cabinet.
She said that the PTI had clearly talked about women’s rights and women empowerment in their manifesto but have now ignored women in their own government. There are just three women in the 24-member federal cabinet and one in the 23-member Punjab provincial government cabinet.
Ayaz said that there were several women who made their way into the provincial assembly on PTI tickets for the reserved seats for women and they were expecting that Prime Minister Imran Khan would accord them representation in the key decision-making body.
She asked the PTI government to give representation to women and minorities in some of the remaining ministries.
Meanwhile, Sikh community representative Radesh Singh Tony — who had been ignored by most political parties for a ticket and ultimately contested from Peshawar in the July general elections as an independent — slammed the PTI-led government for ignoring minorities.
He said that Imran had not only ignored minorities for the K-P cabinet but had also failed to give them adequate representation in national and Punjab assemblies.
He said that in the last PTI government in the province, minorities were deprived of their rights while critical funds were diverted to serve other schemes.
Tony said that on the one hand the PTI chairman and now Pakistan’s premier claims of forming a government on the lines of the one in Medina, while on the other it deprives minorities of their rights.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2018.