An article by Dr. Rakhshinda Perveen published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

Dr.Rakhshinda Perveen

It was indeed a pleasant surprise to see NA 44 FATA appearing as the “breaking news” on March 31, 2013, and the reason behind this first time privilege was none other Badam Zari, the 38 year old Bajour Agency’s   resident, home maker turned independent electoral candidate who wanted to work for the women of FATA with the conviction that “Men in Bajour generally respect women”.  Then followed a 70 year old but enthusiastic widow Gulana Bibi, who vowed to put up a fight with a MQM party ticket, in Tank the home of Maulna Fazlur Rehman,.  Nusrat Bibi from lower Dir, originally a member of PTI, disappointed on not getting a party ticket dared to contest as an independent candidate. Another Nusrat Begum stood up as n independent candidate in Mardan against mighty Hotis.

This all was coming from tribal belt and KP. Most of Pakistanis   know rather too well that how world looks at these regions. KP stands out in some other respects as well. For instance it  has the worst record  in centre-province relationship, law and order situation, unemployment rate  since the creation of Pakistan. Therefore, irrespective of the underlying reasons, whether these women decided their political pathways independently or were influenced by men in their families and or immediate communities what was noticed is the vim and valor of Pashtun women. These women brought sighs of relief among the liberals and progressives and mere sighs to the otherwise at least for a few days prior to the Elections 2013.

As someone who was specifically interested in knowing the degree of inclusion of women and their issues in the election with a special focus on conflict zones of Pakistan( though these are not officially declared as the conflict zones) I began to see my own optimism being gradually replaced by taints of cynicism if not pure disillusionment. The catalyst to this response was the open threat of Taliban to three mainstream political parties-thus depriving them of the level playing field before election. It was therefore not at all surprising to read that Gulana Bibi withdrew her nomination and ANP decided to hold corner meeting instead of jalsa to save lives. What was surprising is the absence of articulation of women’s’ issue and promises for their advancement among right and left or perceived right and left political parties.

In some of the heavily donor funded five star hotels based  pre election seminars that I attended I failed to understand the failure of the concerned ones to rehabilitate inhabitants of Jallozai camp, protection of  the resident women and girls of this camp and at least acceptance of the fact that inhumane conditions leading to psychosomatic disorders are prevalent there. Similar I noticed with shock the   absence of voices on the need to provide enabling environment to women voters and women in media in harsh geographical and cultural terrains of FCR and FATA and the casual responses of intelligent media” men” and many renowned  cso representatives ( operating from Islamabad).


A day before the election I came to know through my sources that an agreement had been materialized in lower Dir to bar women from casting vote. I also noticed an email on the same issue by renowned activist. While I was thinking of sharing my information with a group of human and women rights activists I came across a long  e mail from a Pashtun woman rights activist , a politician as well as the head of an NGO suggesting effectively that this news is baseless. Knowing in the light of my past experiences that Pashtun nationalism is very strong and perhaps some of their firebrand activists do not like a non Pashtun like me to talk about them I remained silent. I knew it would be fatal for me to act as more   loyal than the king. On 12 May ’13,  I finally got hold of the copy of the written agreement ( my colleague and journalist Kahar Zalmay did it) which I shared with key networks if CSOs and rights based activist. Geo TV “broke” the news that very evening (without acknowledging Zalmay) and in the following days almost all TV channels and newspapers talked about it.

As expected a majority of the frontline activists and networks of CSOs become suddenly active. Soon another agreement of similar nature was found from upper Dir. Civil society mainly donor driven has limited capacity of looking at the problems with its own lens and it chooses its battles carefully- hence I was neither shocked nor surprised at the response ,non response and reaction of the mainstream NGOs and renowned activists.

Anti women   practices, policies and preaching are   prevalent in Pakistan despite some pro women activism, legislation and   advocacy. However, what shocked me in the post election phase is the silence of the judiciary and most of the popular media channels and TV hosts of news and current affairs programs.

As if all this was not enough to damage the interests of a vast majority of ordinary women across the country in general and in conflict areas of tribal belt and KP all of a sudden the magic recipe for peace was discovered. In this post election 2013 “new Pakistan” the talk of the town is talk with Taliban. Both PTI and PML-N want to give peace a chance through negotiations with these terrorists. I am neither a popular TV anchor nor an expensive consultant political analyst therefore I refrain from commenting on the selective naivety of the “new leadership” in Pakistan and making any intelligent or unintelligent guesses about the outcomes of this negotiation. However, being a non elite self made Pakistani woman I am a qualified non specialist to put forward a suggestion. If you all mighty men are determined to talk with Talibans kindly include at least two  ordinary women-two mothers who are  still     surviving the  loss of their loved ones and seeing amputees around on daily basis  with no place to seek hope.


The AHRC is not responsible for the views shared in this article, which do not necessarily reflect its own.

About the Author:

Dr. Rakhshinda Perveen, director of creativeanger by rakhshi she can be approached at

Document ID :AHRC-ETC-021-2013
Countries : Pakistan
Date : 22-05-2013