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Pakistan needs women from diverse backgrounds to contest polls

Pakistan`s political parties, across the board, in the upcoming general elections of 2018, persistently produce abysmally low female participation.

While on the surface, women have undeniably become more cognizant and motivated towards political issues, their participation in assemblies to determine electoral outcomes and catalyze social transformation remains appallingly lackluster.

The propulsion force for change could be an urgent re-assessment of Pakistan`s Elections Act of 2017 proviso to ascertain whether a five per cent minimum legal quota threshold for females is helpful or harmful to the concept of “demos cratos” or democracy. Quotas are not always premised on “merit”.

Female politicos in Pakistan have admirably been elevated to national celebrity status.

Whilst this is an immensely welcome development, glossy celebrity status and token appreciation can never compensate for qualified, competent result-oriented female candidates.

This is due to the fact that parties often consistently recruit female candidates belonging to influential families or “electables”. Instead women of all diverse backgrounds and walks of life, especially minorities, should be given a fair and formal chance to contest.

Much like their male counterparts, the same names and faces are unimaginatively and nauseatingly recycled among political parties at every election.

Candidates with the resources, wherewithal and political clout hasten to become “turn-coats” jumping onto the bandwagons of other parties willing to award them a decidedly coveted election ticket.

Often giving scant attention to the manifestos, substance, or political platforms of the exclusively cherry-picked party candidates.

A rigid numerically arbitrary mathematical quota for female candidacy may not always be a feasible course of action given that most parties award tickets to adhere to and align with the rules of the Act.

Selectively seating “electables” to forcefully or opportunistically fill up “quotas” is a slapdash sloppy political strategy, flouting the fundamental norms of merit, decency and democracy.

Political candidates whether male, female or transgender should be judged on their firm ability to perform and deliver whilst in office. An arbitrary super-imposed minimum quota law might run anathema to meritocracy and accountability.

Therefore, efficacious participation of women in politics lies not in minimum quotas, but rather in transforming misogynist mindsets of male counterparts who dominate the political discourse.

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