While most candidates in Haroonabad district organised back-to-back corner meetings and displayed banners and posters, actress Meera went door-to-door campaigning for her mother.
Shafqat Zahra Bukhari is running from PP-283 as a Justice Party Pakistan candidate. She is running against Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat’s Rehan Mehmood Farooqi, who is also said to have the support of Muttahida Deeni Muhaz and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Meera explained her strategy.
“We need to educate people about our family and my mothers’ services as an educationist.”
Meera wears shalwar qamees and covers her head with a duppatta during the visits. She says people need to know why her mother is a better choice than her opponents. She says she has been disappointed by the propaganda against her and her family. “They called us prostitutes ... They are targeting her because I chose to be an actress.”
Meera says she has left every house having won a voter for her mother. “When they learn the truth about us, our connections to spiritual leaders and my mother’s services, they agree to vote for her.”
Bukhari, a retired deputy education officer in Bahwalnagar, is a Syed— something Meera believes will help her mother garner votes of the Shiite community in the area.
Meera says her (Meera’s) image has so far been her mother’s greatest challenge. She says she is determined to change people’s perspectives about women in the entertainment industry.
Meera says she is not scared by death threats from the extremists. She also says, she would not hesitate for a moment if she were asked to lay down her life for her mother.
After retirement, Bukhari started an NGO called the Al Shafqat Welfare Trust to help marry poor girls. The trust also provides sewing machines to unemployed widows in Bahawalnagar. Bukhari, who mostly remained quiet during her election campaign, told The Express Tribune that going door-to-door was not easy. “Answering insensitive questions in a way that they trust you is a challenge.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2013.