Badam Zari, who shot to prominence for being the first woman to contest polls from the ultra-conservative tribal constituency of Bajaur Agency, naturally drew media attention. Now that very spotlight is proving to be a liability.
“She is spending a bulk of her time appearing on local and foreign media instead of visiting the women of the constituency she is standing from,” said Wagma, a local social activist.
Wagma also expressed reservations on behalf of the tribal women living in NA 44 from where Zari is contesting.
“Badam Zari’s candidature had sent a great message that a tribal woman from a conservative culture could become a public representative,” she said.
“Women of Bajaur were expecting frequent visits from Zari to explain to them as to how she is going to solve their problems,” Wagma said.
However, she claims Zari did not pay much attention to the locals and kept focusing on media appearances rather than actually working on the ground.
An official from the FATA secretariat who wished not to be named, told The Express Tribune that it was the media, which hounded Zari for interviews, that hampered her campaign.
He admitted that some people even doubt her sincerity and are spreading the word that Zari and her husband are trying to get attention through media appearances or are already being funded by some NGO or foreigners.
Aurat Foundation chief Naeem Mirza said all this was to be expected. She also said that if Zari skipped the door-to-door campaign it would have a negative impact on her chances in elections.
When contacted, Badam Zari said that “I made every possible effort to visit the constituency, but due to the significance of my decision (to contest polls), it was my moral duty to remove the misconceptions about Pakistan’s tribal region and to inform the world that the tribal women are far more courageous than perceived.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2013.