Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has not allotted a single ticket for union council chair to a candidate from a minority community for the local government elections scheduled for October 31.
Only one woman candidate has been given a ticket for union council chair.
There are 274 union councils in Lahore. Each union council is to have 12 members; seven of them will be directly elected. The chairman, vice chairman (joint candidates) and six general members (councillors) will be directly elected in a union council. They will then elect two women members, a non-Muslim member, a youth member and a peasant member.
“The PML-N is the country’s largest party with governments in the Centre and in two provinces. It should have set a precedent by giving tickets to minority community members and women,” an office bearer of the PML-N Women’s Wing said.
“Lahore is regarded as the centre of the PML-N’s politics. Only one woman in the city has been awarded a ticket for chairman. No one from the minority communities has been considered for the office. They are now at the mercy of elected members who will nominate them for seats reserved for them,” said the office bearer who did not want to be named.
Development expert Salman Abid, who has authored a study on local governments, said political parties believed that there was not much space for minority communities and women in the power politics. He said that usually women with strong political backgrounds were awarded tickets.
“Local government elections should serve to change this practice.”
Abid said minority communities, women and labourers in the Punjab had been given the right to direct election in the local government elections of 2001 and 2005.
PML-N Lahore President Pervaiz Malik said only those who met the merit were given tickets. “In every council, seats are reserved for women and minority communities. The PML-N does not have a policy to stop them from contesting general seats,” he said.
Malik said the candidates had been selected on the basis of popularity, the duration of their association with the party and the extent of participation in party affairs. He said he could not elaborate further.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2015.