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National

June 14, 2018

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Winning election an uphill task for two women contenders in Lower, Upper Dir

PESHAWAR: Women candidates contesting the 2018 election on general seats in Lower and Upper Dir districts can be termed a big change in the otherwise conservative society.

A former Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) Sobia Shahid is contesting on the ticket of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) for the National Assembly constituency NA-7.

She is the daughter of ex-senator late Akhunzada Bahrawar Saeed who belongs to Khaal area of Lower Dir district. Akhunzada Bahrawar Saeed was also elected as senator on the PML-N ticket. The PML-N has awarded ticket to Sobia Shahid for contesting for general seat of the National Assembly.

Another female candidate contesting on general seat is Hameeda Shahid. She is the candidate of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from PK-10 Upper Dir-1. Belonging to Osherai Darra, she has settled in Peshawar and her opponents in PTI claims Hameeda family does not own house in the native Osherai Darra.

Both the women are active members and staunch supporters of respective parties. Sobia Shahid has already served as an MPA. Both of them are facing strong candidates from other political parties like Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan People's Party and Awami National Party (ANP) who have a solid vote bank in the area.

Sobia Shahid is in the run against JI chief Sirajul Haq, PTI's Bashir Khan besides ANP Nazir Khan and PPP Syed Shahid Ahmad Jan. Same is the case of Hameeda Shahid who has to confront the strong JI and PPP having roots in the district for decades. Two more PTI activists Sumera and Sair Shams have also filed nomination papers from PK 15 and PK-16.

In PK 15, KP former finance minister Muzaffar Said is JI nominee while ex-minister Mehmood Zaib is PPP candidate besides others while in PK-16 ex-legislators Aizazul Mulk Afkari of JI and Bahadur Khan of ANP are the main contenders.

Though the party has allotted tickets to male candidates from both the constituencies, the filing of nomination papers by the female activists is also a change in areas where women were even not encouraged to exercise their right to vote.

Even on several occasions, women were barred through jirgas or mutual agreements among different political parties from casting vote. In the 2013 general election, a PTI female activist from Warsak in Ouch area of Lower Dir, Nusrat Begum, had filed nomination papers for National Assembly constituency but her party instead allotted ticket to a male candidate Bashir Khan.

However, this time the two women, Sobia Shahid and Hameeda Shahid, have been awarded party tickets. They would contest the polls but it would be a bit difficult to win in the presence of heavy weights in the run.

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