‘Naya Pakistan’ rally: Where were the women?

Published: March 24, 2013
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TI supporters wave party flags during the ‘Naya Pakistan’ rally at Minar-e-Pakistan. PHOTO: SHAFIQ MALIK / EXPRESS

Claims regarding the strength of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) March 23 jalsa range from some 100,000 to 1.2 million.

From what I roughly calculated from above one of the containers placed especially for the media, there were at least 250,000 people out there. While I might be mistaken about the overall turnout, I am quite sure the number of women was disappointingly low.

I literally had to search for them. I finally found a group of women, not more than 500 or so, sitting in the centre-front and scattered here and there. Some of those whom I talked to said they had come from Gujranwala in rented cars. Another said she had postponed an international flight to attend the jalsa. While I appreciate their courage for leaving their homes and bringing their children along, I felt disappointed at the overall thin presence of women, leaving me to question the reason behind it.

Did the organisers not focus on women when campaigning or were the men not sure they could take their women along?

Do they not know that generations enter the premises of hope with women?

Do they not realise that women make up half of Pakistan’s population and their votes count as well?

Do they not know that a nation cannot prosper if its women are not politically active? Then what went wrong?

Where were all these women?

After all, it’s the first political party in Pakistan to have such a huge number of elected female candidates or 23,000 to be precise, according to Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Earlier on March 22, when I asked Imran Khan why he had reservations about reserved seats for women, he was clear that he had none. He clarified that he supported women and their participation in politics, “but on merit only”. Makes sense. Then some of the very important positions in the party are held by women – Dr Yasim Rashid (Punjab general secretary) and Fauzia Kasuri (women’s wing president).

Then what went wrong? Where were the women supporters?

Read more by Ayesha here.

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Ayesha Hasan

A sub-editor on the Lahore desk of The Express Tribune. She graduated from Kinnaird College with a masters in mass communication and is a Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Fellow of Journalism at DW, Bonn.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.