Women-friendly political parties in the mainstream

  • Hamza Latif
  • Nov 16, 2023

Politics in Pakistan has always been fickle — a party in the establishment’s ire one day can be the apple of their eye the next. One sees this cycle over and over again, and every time one thinks it must be over for good, it rears its ugly head yet again.

These days, a right-wing party previously claiming to have anti-establishment roots now seems to be a political favourite contender. A strong lady from the said party, now the chief organizer, was somewhat quite vocal for the cause of minorities’ rights, from missing persons to the plight of Baloch women. She was also facing allegations in the courts of law, which have now been cleared.

The lady, in a political landscape still primarily dominated by men, always tried to give strong messages to political contenders by surrounding herself with the women leaders of her party. The people’s sentiments were with her because she had to face quite an amount of trolling by the opposing party. Some controversial statements were also made about her by the former premier of Pakistan. Aurat March organizers, feminists, and left-wing parties came to her support, as she was unjustly being targeted because of her identity alone.

On October 21, a long-awaited event finally came to fruition in Pakistan’s political landscape. A three-time former prime minister of Pakistan returned home, and on his return, he made a very sensible speech, giving a message of peace to everyone. He proclaimed the need to move forward and promised further improvements if he were to have a fourth term.

After four years of self-exile, the statements he made were not only broadcast but aptly listened to by a large audience, when he tried to snub an opposing political party’s political rallies by remarking that the women workers of his party sat dignified at political events, instead of partaking in dances and the such.

Yesterday, another statement of the same sort has been heard by the same gentleman, at a political gathering in Quetta. At this point, one begs to know, whether the gentleman has arrived to contest elections against opposing political parties or to fight women.

Other senior members of the same party have also been known to refer to women parliamentarians of the opposing party as ‘garbage’ while responding to criticism from the parliamentarians.

Pakistani women already suffer from nominal occupation of public spaces, and while this had recently changed when it came to political gatherings, such statements ensure that the situation goes back to the days when women were seldom seen at such gatherings.

This adds on top of the heinous attempt to divide women into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, a categorization this society has been guilty of for centuries. What makes this attempt particularly worse is the fact that this time the division is based on political affiliation, ergo a blatant attempt to undermine the opposing party by maligning their women workers, while simultaneously portraying their party as one that dignifies women. If the audience follows so far, this two-pronged effort will seem glaringly hypocritical, as one cannot vilify one group of women during efforts to uplift women.

Mayhaps, the gentleman requires this reminder, and who better to deliver it than his daughter? If there was ever a time for Maryam Nawaz to step up for women in the political space, this is it. The setting is fertile for mainstream parties in Pakistan to come out of the pit of misogyny and show the light of the sun to their imagination. The real question yet remains — will they?


Hamza Latif

The author is an independent writer, researcher and currently associated with Hum News. He can be reached at @HamzaLatifSays on X

You May Also Like