The flawed argument in favor of reserved seats for women

December 18, 2012 § 11 Comments

Imran Khan recently kicked up yet another melee in Pakistan’s media when he declared that he would have women contest elections rather than enter the National Assembly on reserved seats. Before weighing the plausibility of the argument, many were quick to jump the bandwagon of unqualified criticism simply because it was Khan who said so.

For the uninformed, women in Pakistan’s National Assembly currently have 60 reserved seats. How exactly are these seats filled in? Well, since the seats are allocated to each political party based on their proportion in the legislature, the said political parties have the sole authority to figure out who will fills these seats.

The result is simply that the wives, daughters, sisters, relatives of the bigwigs of each political party smugly position themselves on these seats, clamouring out about women rights yet being utterly incompetent to launch the least effort to that end. Seats are allocated purely on political connections with nary a thought spared to any merit or qualification.

There are plenty who dished out a tab bit intelligent criticism to Khan’s proposition by stating that letting women contest elections is nearly impossible in a conservative country like Pakistan. The argument is quite valid and yet it is utterly inadequate to reach the conclusion that the reserved seats shouldn’t be tampered with.

In my view, yes women contesting elections still seems a remote possibility. However, things are on their way to change with ECP pushing for a greater number of party tickets given to woman candidates. Meanwhile, what we CAN do is to ensure that at least the women who find their way to NA on reserved seats merit some minimum qualification.

Just like I would never vote Hamza Shahbaz for being Shahbaz Sharif‘s son, I wouldn’t want a woman to represent Pakistani women simply because she is the wife of an eminent politician. Is that principally wrong? No. Is that too much to ask or somehow impossible? Absolutely not. So why the mindless ruckus then?

Rather than expending their energies in rabidly attempting to defend the reserved seats, I would suggest that the women rights activists can do a far better job if they tried to coordinate with the authorities and somehow devise some kind of minimum qualifications for the women who get to be appointed on the reserved seats. A proven record of working for women, some political insight into policy-making for the said gender – anything tangible that may make sense for a person who gets to be on one of those reserved seats. And I really don’t think that is too much to ask for.

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§ 11 Responses to The flawed argument in favor of reserved seats for women

  • […] Salman Latif exposes the flawed arguments in favor of reserved seats for women in the Pakistan National Assembly. […]

  • TruthNinja says:

    Well said! Way better than some “journalists” in Pk media today. Good job!

  • Sindhu says:

    It’s really funny how guys like you would never protest and support women who are being discriminated against but once a woman seems to get a “special” privilege,all of you would jump to criticize her.I would only be against reserved seats for women when parties will abolish women wings(which ghettoizes women ), integrate them into the main party leadership ,and promote them to higher ranks without any discrimination.The same way that I’d be against anyone speaking against reserved seats for minorities since Pakistan isn’t a secular country,but would support the argument in secular country in which religion is restricted to homes and prayer places,I support reserved seats for women.Also why isn’t Imran Khan against reserved minority seats?Oh wait maybe women are not being discriminatd against as much as the minorities are?Truth is IK is a chutya and a misogynist.He voted against amemdment to Hudood laws and gave a very fucked up,idiotic explanation for it,and now he’s doing it again.

    • Salman Latif says:

      This, *points to the above comment*, my friends, is a really mature comment from someone who is evidently a politically aware and informed person.
      In case you missed it, that was sarcasm. Let’s for one, get over the pathetic whining for the politics of complacency, that’s all we have come down to. “Since Pakistan is not a truly democratic/liberal country” blah blah blah. That’s how all our arguments go down. The punchline is laboriously used to deliver all kinds of insane arguments. I wrote about how reserved seats are more of a malady and how we can make the appointments on these seats far better by some reforms. Did you even read the entire article, sire?

      Oh and in case you missed, I’m no IK fan-boi. May not even end up voting for him or PTI. So please spare me your typical anti-PTI rhetoric which is starting to sound religious in its fanaticism.

    • Falcon says:

      Mr. Sindhu –
      You still didn’t address the issue at hand. It has nothing to do with reserved seats but the process of assignment; whether it should be nomination or election? And if it is nomination, how do we prevent abuse?

      On a side note, I would have never expected the kind of language you have used towards the end coming from a guy who seems to be a very well educated person.

  • Me says:

    Your website has ants running all over the text. Makes my eyes hurt. Ugh. Bad bad bad choice.

  • Rai M Azlan says:

    very well composed piece Salman good job

  • Falcon says:

    Salman –
    Came across your article from twitter. Well articulated. However, I think unless there is only one woman contesting in an area, there is still room for elections. We can make it an election amongst women only. Once we start going into criteria other than education degree (where credibility is less questionable because of third party involvement), it will be too difficult to put controls around related subjective variables (For example: the candidate should have spent x no. of years in politics). How do we cross-verify these qualifications?

    Lastly, as someone suggested above, it might be a good idea to get rid of ants interface on your website. For a new user, it comes across as a strange reading exercise.

  • […] good explanation about the Women’s reserved seat was provided by Salman Latif : Women in Pakistan’s National Assembly currently have 60 reserved seats. How exactly are these […]

  • […] Salman Latif exposes the flawed arguments in favor of reserved seats for women in the Pakistan National Assembly. […]

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