Two women from Pakistan's restive northwest have made history by becoming the first tribal women to file nomination papers for the May 11 parliamentary polls.
Forty-year-old Badam Zari filed nomination papers for a National Assembly constituency in the restive Bajaur tribal region on Sunday while Nusrat Begum plans to contest elections from Lower Dir, a tribal district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
While an increasing number of women are taking part in politics in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, it is almost unheard of for women to be part of electioneering in the conservative tribal belt, where several militant groups are active.
In the past, several tribes have even barred their women from voting in polls in the tribal belt.
Asad Sarwar, the returning officer for Bajaur Agency, told the media that Badam Zari had filed nomination papers for National Assembly seat number 44. Bajaur Agency has two seats in the lower house of parliament.
Zari said she was contesting the polls in order to work for the welfare of tribal women. "I want to work for the betterment of women in the tribal area, especially Bajaur Agency, which has suffered immensely in the tribal system," she told the Dawn newspaper.
No lawmaker from the tribal areas had ever raised the issues of women in the National Assembly, she said. Zari said she was not scared of anything or anyone and was determined to contest the polls because this was her "constitutional and religious right". She said she would launch her campaign soon.
Nusrat Begum, a district vice-president of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, told reporters she would contest the polls as an independent candidate because her party had allotted a ticket to another candidate. "All the people who won from the constituency in the past did nothing for people's betterment," she said. If she is elected, she would work to provide basic amenities to people, especially women, children and minorities, she said.
Pakistan will go to the polls on May 11 to choose a new 342-member National Assembly and four Provincial Assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Image: Badam Zari and Asad Sarwar | Photograph: Facebook