Most of the laws and reforms introduced by President Pervez Musharraf’s government to empower women remain unimplimented. Women are no better or worse off now than they were when elections were last held in the country in 2002. This despite the fact that one third of parliament seats in Pakistan are reserved for women.
The role of women MPs and the inability of the government to implement legislation related to women are some of the issues that are being much debated as the country faces another general election on Monday.
The Women Protection Law, for instance, the subject of much debate before it was passed in 2006, is a prime example as the government has been unable to identify the proper judicial official to deal with it.
The same is the case with Pakistan’s minority communities. Despite being brought back into the joint electorate system, a separate voter list is still issued for them which defeats the purpose of inclusion. Members of the country’s minority communities want to be part of the 80.9 million registered voters in Pakistan, but they are still being identified by their faith.
While they do not vote only for people of their community only as was the case under the separate electorate system earlier, who they vote for can be identified. “This puts them under pressure,” commented Anis Haroon, a human rights activist in Karachi.