Pakistan: All the Prime Minister’s Women

Published on: August 1, 2018

Female members of Imran Khan’s party claim that Pakistan’s new leader has their interests at heart. Does he?


Imran Khan

Image Courtesy: BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
 

It was a hot day in mid-July when Salman Sufi found out that he had been fired. Until then, Sufi had been a senior member of the Punjab chief minister’s Special Monitoring Unit, where he had, among other things, developed and implemented the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act in 2016. The law was controversial, not least because it allowed for speedy hearings on cases, made special provisions for the development of women’s shelters, expedited procedures that allowed for the removal of abusive men from homes, and sought to implement GPS tracking of abusers. The country’s ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was committed to getting the reforms through in the province of Punjab, and Sufi was there to help it do so.

The days before the bill was finally passed in 2016 were difficult ones for Sufi; religious hard-liners fired shots at his house. At the last minute, male members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the political party of the former cricket star Imran Khan, walked off the assembly floor, refusing to vote for the legislation. The women of the party stayed, in protest. Later, when the vote was called, the men never returned. In the words of one female lawmaker, the men “feel they are being plotted against.” Still, the bill passed.

The fact that Khan and his party opposed domestic violence legislation in 2006, failed to back the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act in 2016, and deferred to the Islamic council on Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s law the same year doesn’t bode well.
 
The fact that Khan and his party opposed domestic violence legislation in 2006, failed to back the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act in 2016, and deferred to the Islamic council on Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s law the same year doesn’t bode well.
For the 2018 elections, his party selected just six women to run, barely meeting the 5 percent quota that the Election Commission of Pakistan required of all parties to compete in the election. Only two of them won, as opposed to 114 PTI men.
There is some hope. One of the two women elected was 33-year-old Zartaj Gul, a political newcomer, who unseated a longtime feudal candidate belonging to a powerful clan. Gul, who lost her brother in a terrorist attack, connected with a population that has been plagued by both terrorism and military operations. 

Read the full story here: https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/31/all-the-prime-ministers-women-imran-khan-pakistan-feminism-domestic-violence-pti-womens-rights/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Editors%20Picks%207/31/2018%20-%20Notre%20Dame%20&utm_keyword=Editor's%20Picks%20OC