Tribal woman breaks taboo, to contest election from FATA

Badam Zari aims to stand for NA-44 seat in Bajaur Agency .

Mureeb Mohmand April 01, 2013
Badam Zari aims to stand for NA-44 seat in Bajaur Agency . PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

SHABQADAR: The first woman candidate in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas’ (FATA) political history submitted nomination papers from NA-44 (Tribal Area-IX, Bajaur) on Sunday.

Speaking to journalists, Badam Zari, a resident of Arang Khar, said she wanted to bring a change in her area, and particularly address the difficulties faced by women in the region. She expressed the hope that people in the tribal belt, especially women, would encourage and support her.

Bajaur has two constituencies, NA-43 and NA-44. The former is known for its political awareness having seen the success of the Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan Peoples Party-Parliamentarians (PPPP), and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in the last 10 years despite the fact that the Political Parties Act had not been extended to Bajaur at the time.

Former student leader of the PPPP and current NA-44 candidate Akhunzada Chattan, who was the only person with political affiliation to succeed in the 2008 elections from the constituency, was among those political activists who demanded a special quota for women in the National Assembly.

When contacted for comment, Chattan maintained locals of the area were unhappy with Zari’s decision and considered her act to be in violation of tribal customs. “Fata has a low literacy rate and only 3% of women are educated. Instead of encouraging them to enter politics, NGOs and the government should work for the promotion of female education.”

Chattan further said people in the tribal belt did not want to see women stand in elections, adding such candidates had no female polling agents due to tribal society customs and the low literacy rate. The former MNA said it was important to first cultivate a suitable environment for women candidates. The current scenario allows for nothing more than the violation of centuries-old tribal traditions, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2013.


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