Meet the Baloch daughters of the east

Published: May 2, 2013
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PTI candidate for NA-240, Naz Baloch.

PTI candidate for NA-240, Naz Baloch.

PPP candidate for PS-109, Saniya Naz. PTI candidate for NA-240, Naz Baloch.
KARACHI: 

Those who have been struggling for gender equality won’t have to wait for the election results to put on their party hats. In the heat of this election season, some gender stereotypes have melted away.

Two Baloch women, who are in the running for seats in Karachi, have started to make ripples, shattering the perception that females from their community can’t participate in the public sphere.

Naz Baloch’s nomination as a candidate for a National Assembly seat has thrilled the Baloch women of her locality. “They are overwhelmed that a Baloch – and that too a woman – is contesting. They keep asking me to hold meetings in their houses and do all my political work there,” says the ebullient Naz, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) candidate for NA-240 which includes Baldia and Shershah.

The animated 32-year-old can’t help but beam as she tells The Express Tribune that she is the only woman in her family to have marched into the political arena. Growing up, Naz kept an eye on Benazir Bhutto, the first elected female head of government in the Muslim world. “I liked Benazir Bhutto. She was a lady of substance but unfortunately she couldn’t deliver much.”

Her father, Abdullah Baloch, a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) loyalist who has now been awarded the party’s ticket for PS-92, would often invite Nusrat Bhutto and Murtaza Bhutto over for lunch and dinner. Despite this, she was never interested in joining PPP. When she decided to join PTI two years ago, her father was taken aback. “But being democratic, he understood my right and allowed me to follow my path.”

Naz went on to become the information secretary of PTI’s women’s wing, working her way up to eventually become its head. After the recent intra-party elections, she became PTI’s central vice president.

As the slogan ‘Naya jazba, nai soch, Naz Baloch, Naz Baloch’ echo in the area, Naz coolly declares that she’s more than willing to step into no-go areas to muster support, shattering yet another gender stereotype. “Since the government has not provided security, I recite prayers and leave everything to God.”

Lyari’s hopeful Wonder Woman 

Another Baloch woman contesting for the elections is Saniya Naz, a PPP candidate vying for PS-109 – the seat labelled by some as ‘the heart of Lyari’. The constituency, which includes Chakiwara and Kalri, has around 150,000 voters. Like Naz, the nomination of this self-styled ‘awami numainda’ (representative of the people) has dispelled stereotypical images of Baloch women as reclusive, conservative and unwilling to venture outside their homes.

“Baloch women are liberal. Those who say that our women are not allowed to work are wrong,” says Saniya as she stares at her elections banners which have been put up at the Lyari Resource Centre, where she is part of the management committee. Just like in the banner, Saniya is dressed in black clothes. A chadder covers her head and the most radiant smile spreads across her face.

“I have lived my entire life in Lyari. I am not like Nabil Gabol, Rafique Engineer and other former parliamentarians who never lived in Lyari or visited it,” says the lively and energetic woman. Uzair Baloch, the leader of the Peoples Amn Committee, handpicked her to run for the constituency, initially shocking her.

“My focus is on education. I want to continue my education,” says Saniya, adding that one of her sisters is studying to become a doctor. She also wants to do something for sportsmen of the area – all the footballers and boxers who are being neglected. She aspires to be a health minister, improve health facilities in Lyari and also lend a hand to women entrepreneurs starting up small businesses. “I will become mohatarma of Lyari. I will become like Shaheed Benazir.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Baloch Insafian
    May 2, 2013 - 3:05AM

    Proud of you girls..!

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  • Falcon
    May 2, 2013 - 3:34AM

    Best of luck to both inspiring women. On a side note, I didn’t know that Naz Baloch is a rebel from a pro-PPP family. I am happy to see that she was able to rise up the ranks in PTI due to her hard work.

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  • Jibran
    May 2, 2013 - 3:51AM

    Political Parties needed to award more party tickets to female activists in Karachi. i wish Karachi should portray the secular and liberal image of Pakistan. God speed Girls.

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  • Zeta
    May 2, 2013 - 5:07AM

    All the best to her. Truly an elegant lady Naz Baloch is.

    I hope she goes on to become foreign minister of Pakistan.

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  • jamshed kharian-pak
    May 2, 2013 - 5:23AM

    Daughter of the East Naz Baloch do it for you and for your community Naz Baloch from Balochistan Province is very good news

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  • Saqib Shah
    May 2, 2013 - 7:25AM

    Oh, she’s my friend’s sister! LoL.
    Addee, may Almighty bestow victory on you!

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  • Saqib Shah
    May 2, 2013 - 7:35AM

    @jamshed kharian-pak:

    Shes not from Balochistan. Her family is Sindhi.
    Anyway, Sindhi, Baloch, Punjabi, etc. is absolutely a non-issue for us leftist-liberal readers of ET:))

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  • bunsta bundy
    May 2, 2013 - 11:30AM

    So at the end also she went with what the husdband wanted. So when she lived with her father she voted according to him, and now when the man in her life became her husdband, she started voting according to him. Women have no liberty of say in pakistan, hence there is no democracy.

    I do support PTI but i believe she should have ideologically supported them, stood for right even in her dads present.

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  • Malik
    May 2, 2013 - 2:51PM

    @bunsta bundy
    If that were the case, she would not be rising among ranks. Use your head, dude!

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  • May 16, 2013 - 2:38PM

    Naaz we love you more now !!! you are brave

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  • ahmad
    May 30, 2013 - 12:35AM

    Naz Baloch is inspiarational and amazing.May she have the strength to continue with the same passion

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