News Desk |
For the past few months, Pakistani politics has mostly been about the upcoming Senate elections. From the dethroning of the Chief Minister Balochistan Sardar Nawab Sanaullah Zehri to the breaking up of MQM-Pakistan (MQM-P) over nominations to PML-N being forced out of the Senate race over its leadership’s disqualification; the 52 Senate seats have been at the epicenter of everything political.
While the Upper Legislature’s nominations seem an untidy process, there is also a nomination that has broken stereotypes. Kanwal Shauzab, a 36-year-old PTI veteran and the head of the North Punjab women wing, is the only woman to have been handed a general nomination for the Senate election, a nomination otherwise considered to be bought only by heavy amounts of money.
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Having joined the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf in 1997 at the age of 15, Ms. Kanwal says it was Imran Khan’s charisma and philanthropy that brought her into politics. “Imran Khan’s vision was very appealing, even for someone so young. His work with Shaukat Khanam brought me to his party. I initially wanted to be a researcher to help find the cure for cancer. I had traveled to the party office on a bicycle to fill out my form. The educated middle class believed that Imran Khan would make a country a better place. After 21 years, I still have faith in that.”
The Senate nominee says that she was surprised when the leadership apprised her of the nomination. “A general seat is usually perceived to be bought on heavy payments. There’s never really been a nomination like this and to think about all the people that wanted to be nominated! I was surprised but I think this was a positive step from the party leadership and it signifies the forward-thinking and general approach of the party”.
It isn’t enough, but it’s a positive step nevertheless. We need to work towards getting more and more women to contest against the patriarchal hegemony in politics. I may not win, but my nomination is a testimony to the fact that Tehreek e Insaf is committed to bringing women up to an equal role in leadership”
Ms. Kanwal Shauzab said that she’s been working with the party’s youth wing and aspires to bring young women to hone their leadership skills and take charge. “I started out with the ISF, the Insaf Student Federation. Then I also served as the head of the youth women wing. Throughout the two decades that I’ve worked with PTI, I’ve strived for women to be brought to an equal role in politics. That is what I aim to utilize my seat for.”
The young politician and mother of three said that she’s strictly against the quota system in the legislature. “I think it is demeaning to women to discriminate like that. Why can’t women contest on general seats? Why do they need to rely on reserved seats? The fact that currently there are only two women on general seats signifies the weak position of women in the upper house. If we don’t put an end to that, there may never be equilibrium to gender roles in politics”. Ms. Kanwal also lauded the Election Commission’s step to make a 5% mandatory nomination for women on general seats. “It isn’t enough, but it’s a positive step nevertheless. We need to work towards getting more and more women to contest against the patriarchal hegemony in politics. I may not win, but my nomination is a testimony to the fact that Tehreek e Insaf is committed to bringing women up to an equal role in leadership”.
While the PTI has had women throwing dirt on the party leadership, Ms. Kanwal says that the more educated and serious women in the party have had no issues whatsoever. “Ayesha Gulalai is a liar. That is pretty evident now; she’s towing a planted narrative. There are also other women in the party that think along similar lines as that of Ms. Gulalai, but I’ve never felt any sort of hostility from the leadership throughout my years. If women step out into politics they need to understand that they’re going to face problems. PTI has a very comfortable space for its women. I, along with other stable PTI workers differ with Gulalai who has embarrassed herself with her daily changing stances”.