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In a political rarity Hindu woman, Influencers rise as unconventional candidates in Pakistan elections

Defying norms, social media influencers, and women from minority backgrounds emerge as unexpected contenders in the Pakistan elections. In a political landscape accustomed to traditional candidates, their unconventional presence sparks intrigue and challenges the status quo.

In a political rarity Hindu woman, Influencers rise as unconventional candidates in Pakistan elections avv
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First Published Feb 6, 2024, 4:03 PM IST

Pakistan is all set to enter into its election cycle as much-awaited general elections are to be held on Thursday. Around 6,500 candidates from 150 political parties are set to take part in this week's polls. However, only five percent of the candidates are women despite a greater population of women in the South Asian country. 

The Pakistan constitution has provisions of reservation for women in the National and Provincial legislature. However, rarely women are given representation above the reservation percentage. In a similar continuation of the trend, no more than 5 percent women candidates have been fielded by Pakistan's political parties.

However, three women candidates are making noise ahead of polls on Thursday with their unconventional backgrounds. YouTuber Zeba Waqar is fighting the election for the first time banking on the support she has received from YouTube and social media. She is fighting on a ticket from Jamaat-e-Islami, a right-wing party centered around religion from the outskirts of Lahore.

The woman candidate teaches rights according to Islam and the history of the religion as several thousands of women tune in for her insights. Zeba Waqar also uses Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to spread messages from the Quran. She is a doctor by profession and also treats poor women for free.

Samar Haroon Bilour is another woman who is gaining momentum and support from the Pakistani people ahead of the election. The 47-year-old woman filled in her husband's shoes after he was shot dead by the Pakistan Taliban while campaigning during the last election in 2018. Despite few reservations over a woman candidate, the Peshawar voters elected her as the first woman MP of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

She is fighting incumbency but is expected to retain the Peshawar seat and further her work. Saveera Parkash on the other hand is a Hindu candidate from Buner in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Despite a religiously conservative voter base, the doctor is confident of turning the tide in her favor. She has been a key figure leading the women's wing of Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party in the province.

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