PK-69 Tank: Gullana Bibi withdraws from election race following security threats – by Zulfiqar Ali

People inspect damages resulting from the attack on the house of Pakistan Peoples Party’s NA-1 candidate, Zulfiqar Afghani. As the polls draw closer, militants have increasingly targeted election candidates. PHOTO: INP

DI KHAN: Gullana Bibi, 62, stepped down as an independent candidate from PK-69-Tank after she was threatened by the Taliban.

She told The Express Tribune two men came to her house in Dabara village and presented her with two options – retract her candidature or participate in the elections and face death.

The men said they were Taliban militants and had come from Miranshah, North Waziristan, said Gullana.

“After receiving the threats all the family members convinced her not to participate in the elections,” said her son Khanadar. “If influential leaders contesting  elections are not safe then how can Gullana Bibi be secure?” he asked.

“The men had come twice to threaten me,” she said, adding they failed to clarify which Taliban group they were part of.

Gullana belongs to Dani, a Bhittani sub-tribe. She originally hails from Qabar Shadi Khel Kallay, FR Tank, but settled in Dabara, Tank district after her husband was killed in a family dispute.

Gullana might not have the benefit of education, but her son pointed out she is a hard working member of the village who is aware of the problems faced by her locality.

My mother had been insisting she wanted to contest and become an MPA. “She would often complain that MPAs have the authority to work for their people, but they don’t.”

Gullana had made the decision to contest elections after taking consent from her family. “Prevailing customs in our area make it difficult for a woman to address the public, but we were planning a door-to-door campaign.”

“She wanted to serve the people, but now it seems her desire will remain unfulfilled. We will take back the nomination papers,” said Khanadar.

While many women candidates have been nominated by their political parties for the reserved seats, there are a few who have taken the lead to run as independent candidates for general seats.

Khurshad Begum plans to run as an Awami National Party candidate from NA-14, Kohat.

The rest of the female candidates running for general seats in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are new in the field of politics. Badam Zari, the first woman candidate to run for elections from the tribal areas, is running as an independent candidate from Bajaur NA-44.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2013.

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