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First Woman From Tribal Areas To Run For Parliament

  • RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

KHAR, Pakistan -- Badam Zari has become the first woman in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to run for parliament.

The 40-year-old housewife filed registration papers on March 31 to contest the Barang subdistrict in the Bajaur tribal district bordering Afghanistan.

"I have three priorities -- including the provision of clean drinking water, education for boys and girls, and health facilities, particularly for women,” she said.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal, Zari highlighted the water issue in particular.

"Clean drinking water is one of the biggest problems [in our area],” she said. “I myself used to bring water on my head [from far away] and I am contesting the upcoming polls to address those problems."

Zari has a high-school education and is married, but does not have any children. Her husband accompanied her as she filed her registration papers.

She said she has not received any threats or discouragement from people in her district regarding her planned campaign.

The Bajaur district is dominated by Pashtun tribesmen with conservative views regarding women's rights. A large number of women in the tribal regions are uneducated and must keep most of their skin covered with clothing when they leave home.

The area is also a haven for Taliban fighters and other Islamist militants.

Zari told the Associated Press news agency that her decision to contest the election “will not only give courage to women in general and attract attention to their problems, but also helps negate the wrong impression about our society."

“This will reflect a true picture of our society, where women get respect," she added.

Zari was one of more than 10,000 candidates to file registration papers for the general elections scheduled for May 11.

With reporting by AP