Pakistan is heading towards another general elections and every passing moment these days possesses some amount of interesting news. Over the last few days, a matter of general interest and observation has tilted towards the women of tribal and far-flung remote areas. These brave and courageous women have shown determination to contest elections against some political stalwarts in their respective regions. The areas are infamous for sex-crimes, gender discrimination and rampant violation of fundamental human rights. Natives of these areas are deprived of education that surely adds more to their miseries. In such circumstances, the choice of some brave women to challenge the norms, is a remarkable sign of consciousness and mental prosperity that may lead to social change in future.
Badam Zari, 53, a homemaker hailing from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) will be contesting for the upcoming general elections for a national assembly seat. Zari is under the shadow of constant life threats by the Taliban, who exercise great influence in the tribal regions of Pakistan.
The Taliban, making up most of their presence in the north-western tribal regions of the country have made the once peaceful tribal regions a hell. Democratic process is unconstitutional according the Taliban rhetoric and they have even threatened to target voters who dare turn up to cast their votes on May 11.
In such dire consequences, where Badam Zari is not even hopeful of winning the elections, her strong will and determination to stand up to the inhumane ideology of orthodox and fanatic groups who loom large in her domain is a sign of incessant courage. Being the first women candidate from the federally administered tribal region of Pakistan, Zari aspires to counter illiteracy in her region.
Another tale of gallantry is personified in Veero Kolhi, who was once a bonded labourer, managed to get herself freed from the shackles of serfdom. A woman in her early 50s, Kolhi bears 20 grandchildren and lives in the outskirts of Hyderabad city of Sind province. She belongs to the Hindu community, a minority group that has been brutally forced out of the province in recent months on charges of blasphemy by religious fanatics.
Veero freed many bonded laborers liberated from the chains of feudal tyranny in the past 12 years and she is still highly aspirant to continue her struggle till the last of the bonded laborers are freed. Veero is not wealthy but the slogan of fundamental human rights that she has raised, places her levels above to those who exert influence in political circles.
The emergence of Veero Kolhi and Badam Zari is nothing less than a landmark in the history of our state where minorities and weaker sections of society have always been suppressed. It is high time that people recognize and appreciate this positive change in society that has long been festered by dogmatism and orthodoxy.