In the running: Meet Swat’s first Christian contender for LG polls

Published: April 26, 2015
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Hina Patras says if elected she will focus on women’s rights violations and helping marginalised communities.

Hina Patras says if elected she will focus on women’s rights violations and helping marginalised communities.

MINGORA: 

Only six years ago, girls in Swat were barred from leaving their homes and their education was banned by the Taliban. However, since the security forces drove out the militants, the district’s women have made great strides in raising their voices for their rights. From Malala Yousafzai campaigning for girls education to Tabassum Adnan working for women’s rights and Humaira Shaukat becoming Swat’s first women lawyer.

Hina Patras, a representative of Swat’s small Christian community, has now joined the ranks of these brave women. Patras, 25, has become the first Christian woman to contest local government polls for a district councillor seat in Saidu Sharif.

Patras has a master’s degree in sociology and is a social worker by profession.

“Serving people was my innate drive,” Patras tells The Express Tribune. Her passion only grew after she joined an NGO and came across those marginalised by society.

For Patras, fighting for minorities’ rights and resolving their problems is not the only factor that pushed her to contest elections; she wants to serve humanity irrespective of religion and creed.

“In my social work, when I meet poor communities, particularly women, my heart sinks. I want them be happy and prosperous, with equal rights,” she says, adding the major hurdle in women speaking up for their rights is lack of awareness and education.

The problems minorities are facing in Swat are a bit complicated; they do not face discrimination from locals, but they feel that the government does not take their needs seriously, she says. “We (Christians) have no proper church or graveyard, and we are only considered fit for lower positions such as sanitary workers and peons, in government departments despite being highly educated,” she says.

However, Patras is confident that if elected she would resolve these issues as she believes she has the support of minorities and Muslims alike.

Patras is aware that working in a male dominated set-up will not be easy but she says her parents encouraged her in her cause. “Some people tried to put pressure on me to give up the idea of contesting. They said politics is not a woman’s job but I will show them that women can be better at it than men, if they have the support of their community and passion to serve,” she says.

After finding out that Patras will be contesting, many women have already started listing their demands. “Girls want me work on establishing a playground and women’s university. They also want skill training schools in Swat,” she says.

A staunch supporter of girls education, Patras says many women have received higher education but do not make use of it for various social reasons, which should not be the case.

“I will mainly focus on women rights violations in the area because domestic violence, underage marriages, dowry demands, denial of legal share in property, acid throwing and swara affect me emotionally,” she adds.

Patras says she will do all she can to fight for women’s rights and for the rights of marginalised people, but she also calls for collective action. “Alone I cannot do much, but collectively we can make a difference.”

A staunch believer in equality, Patras says, “I am not a minority, I am an equal citizen of this country.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Swat
    Apr 26, 2015 - 10:32AM

    We all must strongly endorse such people as raising voice in such localities is not easy. I hope literate people come in power in every part of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Nangyal
    Apr 26, 2015 - 10:34AM

    Hina Patras says, “I am not a minority, I am an equal citizen of this country.” Bravo!Recommend

  • Parvez
    Apr 26, 2015 - 11:04AM

    Brave woman…….I wish her well.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Apr 26, 2015 - 12:15PM

    Can we please keep religion out of politics.

    We have had enough of mullah ism

    Everyone should be treated equally and we should become a tolerant inclusive society.Recommend

  • ahsan
    Apr 26, 2015 - 12:36PM

    Kudos to this woman, i hope she gets elected as i feel sikhs, Christians and Hindus too have the right to govern and equal opportunities in a country they were born in.Recommend

  • kulwant singh
    Apr 26, 2015 - 5:37PM

    @Pakistani: My dear Brother the way you think is the only way which will lead you to progress only a tolerant and peaceful society will bring you the required change. My good wishes in advance because peaceful and prosperous Pakistan in in the intrest of India and whole world.Recommend

  • Srehman
    Apr 26, 2015 - 7:43PM

    Shahaash ..that’s the spirit keep the fight on ..Recommend

  • Naeem Khan
    Apr 26, 2015 - 9:03PM

    Patras says, “I am not a minority, I am an equal citizen of this country.” Kudos to you Patras,, I hope you win the elections and serve the local people. What a way to go. show the world that Swat could be as progressive as any other province in the country. Our prayers are with you.Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Apr 26, 2015 - 10:24PM

    Hina has to be a great woman. All the best to her !!!Recommend

  • mamu
    Apr 27, 2015 - 6:11PM

    We had to see this time also when we will chose christians as our leaders. What a shame.Recommend

  • Guru
    May 2, 2015 - 2:26PM

    416 police the 46 that will be coming in from the H8 and / or I8. If the resque 15 is also included then we can have more than the 46 that will be invested this time in the police force that is helping to make the lives better for most of the people who stay on this side of the line that demarcates the cycle person from the person who drives the vehicle on four wheels such that there is a direction to the place being pointed of the post that has been written about.Recommend

  • yasir khawaja
    Jul 28, 2015 - 4:05PM

    All the best Hina
    v are with you…Recommend

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