Female factor: In Islamabad, women could be game changers

The dominant sentiment seems to be one of exercising their right to vote.

Waqas Naeem May 10, 2013
A young woman chants slogans in support of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan at a rally for his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf on May 9, 2013 in Islamabad. PHOTO: Myra Iqbal?Express


Women voters will have a significant say in deciding the fate of candidates contesting elections for the capital’s two constituencies.

A majority of the women The Express Tribune talked to, who make up the capital’s nearly 291,560 women voters and account for 46.3 per cent of the city’s registered voters, seem determined to vote, even if on the eve of the general elections some of them were still unsure which political party or candidate would get their stamp of approval.

The women appear to have decided on the basis of issues facing the country rather than the candidates’ positions on women’s empowerment.

A considerable proportion of women in urban areas, including first-time voters in the 18 to 25 age group, are leaning toward the Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI), evident from the presence of women at the huge PTI political gathering at D-Chowk on Thursday, the last day of electioneering.

“I personally don’t like Imran Khan too much but I think what he represents is good,” said Gul Umar, a housewife in Sector F-6 on Friday. “I will vote for the PTI on the basis that it is a better option than the other political parties.”

Umar’s point-of-view about Khan might be strikingly different from a majority of PTI followers, who seem to be developing a cult of the PTI chief. But like some other PTI women supporters who spoke with The Express Tribune, Umar said she was inspired by the party’s slogan of change and believed in the popular saying that people who do not vote cannot complain about the country’s future.

Irum Mahmood, a housewife shopping for groceries in Sector G-9’s Karachi Company market, said she was going to vote but would make the final decision once she gets to the polling station on Saturday. Like Mahmood, Rubina Shaukat of Sector F-8 said she was undecided about who she would vote to power. “I’m definitely going to vote but there is some confusion in my mind about the final choice,” said Shaukat. However, she said she would choose from one of the four major political parties in NA-48.

Mahmood said she had not reviewed each party’s position on women’s rights but would make her choice based on basic issues. “Inflation, load shedding, water shortage, these are all women’s problems essentially,” she added.

Sehrish Rabbani, a student who said she was inclined towards the PTI for her first vote ever, had not read the policy on women’s rights described by political parties in their manifestos, either. But I considered their position on the power crisis, she added.

In Tarlai, a village on the capital’s outskirts, Shaheen Bibi said her family usually votes for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, but she might vote in favour of Jamaat-e Islami this time. “I’ve postponed my decision till election day.”

In rural areas, some women seemed to have given up on the political parties altogether. “All politicians are corrupt and they do not care for the public once they are elected to power,” said Mai Fareeda, a resident of Humak model town, before adding that she would abstain from voting on May 11.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2013.


Mehreen Awan | 8 years ago | Reply

@Sami Ullah I live in Islamabad and this report does allure us to the fact that all Guls and Khans are voting for Imran Khan because of the Blood and Ethnic Connection rather than reading any Manifesto. It is a common saying right now here that if your name is ending in a Khan or Yosufzai or any in Pushtoon connection then your vote is for Imran Khan. Even More shameful is a recent movement by People like Wajahat S. Khan who made it a Punjabi Vs Pukhtoon thing.

Just scroll Down what he tweeted 16 hours ago. Ethnic Pride and Race Affiliation is sprawling everywhere and the locals like me are now Voting for PMLN only because of the reason that we dont need Ethnic divide what many followers of Imran Khan who recently become the resident of this region from KPK want in this region..


Sami ullah | 8 years ago | Reply

ET will not let a moment to blame and undermine PTI and Imran Khan, "Gul Umar will vote for PTI but don not like I mran Khan". What a reporting, shame for you ET, just shame for you.

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