LAHORE: The Milli Muslim League (MML), political branch of the banned Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), on Monday fielded 260 candidates under the umbrella of Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek.
The final list has 79 candidates for the National Assembly and 181 for four provincial assemblies. It includes the names of Hafiz Talha Saeed, son of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, (for NA-91). Hafiz Saeed’s son-in-law, Khalid Waleed, is a candidate in PP-167. These candidates are contesting under the Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek banner because the ECP denied registration to the MML.
Interestingly, the list has 10 female candidates for general seats along with three for reserved seats.
Party spokesman, Ahmed Nadeem Awan, explains that apart from 5 per cent quota for female candidates made mandatory by the Election Act, the party has given tickets to women out of conviction, not compulsion.
“The party could have granted tickets to housewives and satisfied the ECP condition,” Awan said in a talk with Dawn.
“Bu we have given tickets to candidates considering their political background and fighting spirit. They include lawyers, doctors and professionals from other fields who have been office-bearers in other parties and have recently joined the MML.”
The party has fielded 36 National Assembly candidates from the Punjab, 29 from Sindh, 28 from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 14 from Balochistan and eight from Fata. It has put up five candidates in Karachi and four in Lahore.
The MML seems to have carefully chosen constituencies for female candidates – all of them have been fielded in major cities (Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi and Faisalabad) – in order to dilute its far-right image and make it attractive to the urban middle class.
According to the list, Shazia Saeed will contest from PP-14 (Rawalpindi), Shazia Kauser is fielded in PP-83 (Khushab), Saira Bano in PP-149 (Lahore), Syeda Tahira Shirazi in PP-151 (Lahore), Begum Abida Nazir PP-229 (Vehari), Dr. Saman Leghari in PS-74 (Badin), Iqra Muzamil in NA-251 (Karachi), Rabia Mukhtar in NA-107 (Faisalabad), Advocate Iffat Tahira Somroo in NA-161 (Lodhran) and Benazir Fatima in NA-181 (Muzaffarghar). No female candidate is put up in KP, Fata and Balochistan.
Three candidates for the reserved seats include Humaira Nosheen, Humaira Khaled and Farhat Naeem.
According to the party spokesman, the women wing of the party would be in the forefront of the election campaign because they have access to homes. “Soon, a series of women conventions will be held at the district, town and UC levels to ensure female mobilisation at grassroots levels.”
One of the candidates, Iffat Tahira Somroo for NA-161 from Lodhran evokes particular interest as she says she was the covering candidate for Jehangir Khan Tareen of the PTI in 2015 by-elections and claims to have helped him win. An old member, she says she “was a sure bet for the PT ticket but the party preferred paratroopers over old workers.”
“I decided to contest as an independent candidate,” she said. “Then I met the MML office-bearers. It was their mannerism– the way they respect the women– their manifesto and advice of friends which helped me to join the MML. Back then it was us who had introduced the PTI here (in Lodhran). Now we will launch the MML here.”
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2018