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=> PESHAWAR, Dec 20: In a surprising but heartening d

PESHAWAR, Dec 20: In a surprising but heartening development, five women from Peshawar have joined the race for provincial assembly’s general seats.

The contestants include two members of the previous assembly who had been elected on reserved seats for women.

The situation in PF-4 (Peshawar-IV) constituency is particularly interesting as three women are in the field there. The contestants are: a former MPA, Dr Simin Mehmood Jan; a lawyer, Khalida Nasreen, and; the wife of a late union council nazim, Shazia Asif.

Ghaliba Khursheed is contesting from two constituencies –PF-1 (Peshawar-I) and PF-3 (Peshawar-III). She became an MPA in 2002 on a reserved seat. She belongs to the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal.

She is known for her criticism of MMA policies, especially the proposed establishment of a Hisba Force and the office of ombudsman for looking into social virtues and vices.

She initially belonged to the Tehrik-i-Islami Pakistan, an MMA component. On various occasions, she openly violated the party policy and even voted in the presidential elections against the alliance’s decision.

“I decided to contest the elections because of the difficulties women MPAs faced in the past five years. We were provided funds by the government as if they were obliging us,” Ms Khursheed told Dawn.

She added: “I will demonstrate that women are capable of contesting against men candidates. For the same reason, I request all woman voters to vote for me to address the issue in future.”

Another former MPA, of the PML-Q, Dr Simin Mehmood Jan, sister-in-law of Salim Saifullah Khan, is in the run for PF-4 (Peshawar-IV) seat against 17 other candidates, including two women candidates.

“I want to remove the image of Talibanisation attached to our province and to improve investment opportunities so that beautiful faces could re-emerge on billboards in the provincial capital,” said Dr Jan.

“I am the first woman PML-Q candidate to contest general elections in the NWFP,” she said, adding that she had earlier applied for a PML-N ticket from PF-4 (Peshawar-IV) in 1997 elections but was later told to withdraw in favour of an ANP candidate.

She said that under the MMA government, merit of MPAs on reserved seats was often overlooked. She said that despite all hurdles, she openly opposed anti-women and fundamentalist legislation of the MMA as an MPA and raised voice for the rights of children and women.

“PF-4 is my ancestral constituency which is an added advantage, apart from the presence of educated women voters here who will definitely vote for me,” she added.

Shazia Asif Khan, contesting from PF-4 Peshawar-IV is wife of late Asif Khan Baghi, former nazim of Nauthia union council who lost his life in a suicide bombing on Jan 27. Shazia Asif Baghi, who is not visible on the posters displaying pictures of late Asif Baghi, is a housewife who was encouraged by her in-laws to contest the polls.

Safdar Baghi, her brother-in-law, speaking on behalf of the candidate said that she would fulfil the mission left incomplete by her husband and work for the solution of the problems of her areas like her late husband.

Khalida Nasreen is a lawyer and is contesting elections from PF-4 (Peshawar-IV). She pledged that she would serve the poor. She was elected a general councillor in the local government election in 2005. She that sanitation was the biggest issue of her locality and she would try to make her area cleaner.

Kalsoom Ghani is another new face contesting election from PF-5 (Peshawar-V) as an independent candidate.
Source: Dawn