Several women of the provincial assembly have distanced themselves from the recently-formed women caucus, calling it an “undemocratic.”
The caucus was formed on March 6. Minister for Population Welfare Zakia Shahnawaz is the chairperson of the caucus, Uzma Bukhari its convener, Hina Pervez Butt secretary and Nausheen Hamid treasurer.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Sadia Sohail Rana told The Express Tribune that women from the treasury benches had approached opposition members on March 7 in the assembly committee room to discuss the agenda of Women’s Day.
She said about two dozen treasury women members were present at the meeting.
She said Bukhari and Shahnawaz had announced their nomination for the caucus. She said when opposition members asked for a chance to discuss the matter, they were shut out of the meeting. She said later, names for various caucus office bearers were announced.
“This caucus is being run by an NGO mafia,” she said.
Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Faiza Malik said she did not recognise Bukhari as the convener of the caucus. She said her election was a “selection” and a violation of democratic norms.
She said when they were called to discuss agenda of Women’s Day, Bukhari was confident of her election. Malik said she had protested exercise and had complained to speaker about this.
She said in 2011, a women caucus sponsored by the USAID was set up but could not survive for more than a week due nepotism and undemocratic attitudes of treasury members.”
She said Bukhari was elected general secretary of the 2011 caucus as a result of pandering to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders.
She said she supported the idea of a women caucus but would not support a caucus led by Bukhari who, she said, was an “aggressive puppet.”
She said Bukhari and Shahnawaz had invited pliable women members and had excluded more than 25 lawmakers.
PML-N’s Ayesha Javed said she was not invited to participate in the election of the office bearers.
She said the condition of post-graduation for caucus office bearers was undemocratic in democratic parliament. Talking to The Express Tribune, Bukhari defended the post-graduate condition, saying office bearers should be able to prepare drafts and notes on legal issues.
She said she had been elected for one year and if anyone else, including Malik, was interested in the caucus, they should contest elections for the next term.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2014.