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KARACHI: Of the 171 women candidates in the run for National Assembly seats — the highest number in Pakistan’s electoral history — only a token of them have managed to win as indicated by unofficial results announced by the Election Commis­sion of Pakistan (ECP) on its website.

Out of the total women candidates, 105 were awarded party tickets while another 66 contested as independent across the country.

Among prominent winners, former National Assembly speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza became the first woman in the country to have been elected for a fifth consecutive time from the same general seat.

According to the unofficial results, the Grand Democratic Alliance leader (GDA) won NA-230 (Badin) by a narrow margin by bagging 96,875 votes against her rival from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Haji Rasool Bux Chandio, who secured 96,015 votes.

PPP female leaders grab maximum number of seats

In Jhang’s NA-115, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Ghulam Bibi Bharwana secured 91,343 votes against independent candidate Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi, who secured 68,616 votes. She has previously enjoyed two terms in the assembly through the Pakistan Muslim-League-Nawaz and PML-Q.

A prominent victory for Dera Ghazi Khan in terms of change is PTI candidate Zartaj Gul’s lead in NA-191. According to unofficial figures, she secured 79,817 votes (44.44 per cent) in the constituency as opposed to PML-N’s Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari who got 54,548 votes (30.36pc). Gul has surprised her opponents in the past as well when she challenged feudal and tribal norms on women in the 2013 elections and managed to receive thousands of votes.

This time, the PPP awarded the maximum number of tickets (19) to women candidates — 11 in Punjab, five in Sindh and three in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

From NA-232 (Thatta), the party’s candidate Shamsun Nisa received 152,691 votes against Arslan Bux Brohi of the PTI who received 18,900 votes, as per the unofficial results. She is the mother of former PPP MPA Sadiq Memon who was unable to contest elections as he has dual nationality.

Another PPP candidate to lead her constituency is the daughter of former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah, Nafisa Shah. According to votes counted till midnight in NA-208 (Khairpur-1), Ms Shah was far ahead with 99,747 votes followed by GDA’s Syed Ghous Ali Shah at 36,562 votes. The PPP information secretary has also served as Khairpur Mir’s Nazim during the tenure of General Pervez Musharraf.

PPP’s Shazia Jannat Marri was also ahead in the race as she secured 80,752 votes in NA-216 (Sanghar-2) against GDA’s Kishin Chand Parwani who got 70,436 votes. She was Sindh’s information minister from 2008 till 2010.

Two of PPP’s women candidates also made their way to the Sindh Assembly. In PS-37 (Shaheed Benazirabad-I), Azra Fazal Pechuho won the seat with 55,524 votes against Syed Bagh Ali Shah of the GDA who trailed with 24,637 votes. Azra is the sister of former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.

Faryal Talpur, another sister of Asif Zardari, who fought the election from Sindh Assembly’s PS-10 (Lar­kana), was leading with 53,787 votes, according to unofficial results till midnight.

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2018