Parties ignore women for chairman’s role

Hardly two per cent of over 5,500 candidates contesting upcoming LG polls in Karachi are women

Hafeez Tunio November 24, 2015
Despite the fact that almost 40 per cent of the eligible voters in Karachi are women, hardly two per cent of the candidates nominated by political parties are female. PHOTO: ONLINE


Political parties in Karachi seem to have taken the election commission's nomenclature for the local government setup in the literal sense and have largely ignored the female population when allotting tickets for the posts of chairman, vice-chairman and general councillors in the upcoming polls.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) records, hardly two per cent of the around 5,500 candidates directly contesting the upcoming elections in Karachi on December 5 are women. What is even more surprising is that some of the parties have completely ignored women when allotting the tickets.

Direct elections on women’s seats under study

As per the ECP's data, there are 3,017,275 female and 4,065,791 male voters registered in the six districts of Karachi. In spite of this equation, hardly 134 women are contesting the elections compared to over 5,500 men for 1,520 seats that include chairman, vice-chairman and general councillors of union committees and councils.

An ECP official told The Express Tribune that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has allotted the highest number of tickets to women at 54, with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) having allotted only seven, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) 12, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) 17, Mohajir Qaumi Movement - Haqiqi, two.  Nineteen women are contesting the elections as independent candidates.

Meanwhile, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen and the Awami National Party (ANP) have not allotted a single ticket to women.

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"Only 12 women are contesting for the slot of chairman, 27 for vice-chairman and 90 for general councilors," said an official of the ECP.

Parties’ logic                                                                                           

Speaking to The Express Tribune, PTI Karachi spokesperson said that they have fielded few women on direct elections, given that there is a reserved quota for females in each UC.  "Eight of our female candidates are contesting for chairman and vice-chairman posts and four for general councillor seats," said the spokesperson, adding that their representation in the local government setup would automatically increase through the reserved seats.

The JI spokesperson was of the view that it is difficult for women to run election campaigns, which is why the party has not allotted them too many tickets. "We are not against it, but since they already have a share in the reserved seats, we have given preference to male candidates," he said. The ECP's data shows that in the whole of Malir district, only five women are contesting out of a total 1,114 candidates. Afshan, who belongs to the MQM-H, is contesting for the chairman's seat in UC Garibabad. The others are Sherhbano of Qaumi Awami Tehreek and Fatima Majeed of PPP, while Ayesha Begum and Saira are independent candidates for general councillors.

Tough contest

The toughest contest in Malir district is on the district council seats where various political parties, civil activists and independent groups have formed the Karachi Awami Ittehad (KAI) against the PPP. The alliance is being led by Jam Bijar Jokhio, the chieftain of the Jokhio tribe that has a marked presence in the suburban areas of the city.

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All political parties have announced to organise rallies in this constituency. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is going to address a big public gathering on November 30. PTI leader Imran Khan has announced to reach Karachi and visit the area on November 28. Meanwhile, the estranged PPP leader, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, who has recently won the election from Badin, has announced his support for the Karachi Awami Ittehad and will visit the area in a couple of days.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th,  2015.


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