In Pakistan, 25-year-old woman becomes country’s youngest parliamentarian

Kaswar Klasra

Published: Updated:

At 25, Sania Ashiq is dubbed as Pakistan’s youngest parliamentarian.

As she stepped out of iconic building of Pakistani Punjab’s provincial Assembly soon after taking oath as a parliamentarian, she was questioned by journalists if she knows that she just made history by becoming ‘Pakistan’s youngest parliamentarian’.

Giving them a smile, confident and well educated Sania nodded her head before making her way.

Sania holds a degree of Pharmacy-D (Doctor of Pharmacy) which is a professional degree like a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), from Pakistan’s 135 years old The University of Panjab.

She was elected to Pakistani Punjab’s provincial Assembly earlier this week on Monday, on one of the seats reserved for Women after former ruling political party the PML-N nominated her.

Born and raised in Lahore, a city known as intellectual, artistic and cultural centre of Pakistan, Sania has been involved in charity and social work for long time. Her work for uplifting of poverty-stricken women and children caught attention of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter who, later, nurtured this young woman into a mature politician.

Soon after taking oath as youngest parliamentarian of Pakistan, Sania vowed to use her influence and position as parliamentarian only to work for the betterment of country’s poor women and children.

“As a parliamentarian, I will work for women empowerment. I will make sure the projects initiated by our party for women empowerment,” Sania told journalists.

“I will try my best to serve the people of Punjab from this prestigious platform of Punjab Assembly & come up to the expectations of my party PMLN. May Allah Almighty help & guide me,” she tweeted.

Sania’s election to provincial assembly shows that ordinary and young women are also being encouraged to get involved in politics in Pakistan which has long been a male dominant area.

Pakistan was the first Islamic state which elected a female Prime Minister Ms. Benazir Bhutto (late). She was killed in an assassination in 2007 and is still considered as a role model by many - not just women.

Over the years, new trend has emerged in Pakistan with young and well-educated women like Sania Ashiq are actively taking part in Pakistan’s politics.

Just before recently held general election in Pakistan, more women got involved in major political parties in Pakistan.

Both political experts and critics hailed big political parties for facilitating women in their ranks, but argue the parties need to more in empowering women in politics.

“Glad to see women like Sania making inroads in politics. But, Pakistani politics are still influenced by the local feudal system and dynasty politics. Majority of the seats in the parliament are occupied by well-known and wealthy families. This also accounts for many women who are active in Pakistani politics.

This has to be changed,” Sohail Iqbal Bhatti, a political analyst and a talk show host told Al Arabiya English.

There is no denying that majority of women in the national and provincial assemblies come from families with a long political tradition.

However, increasing number of women like Sania Ashiq was notable in some of the political parties like PML-N that shows room is also open for the females of middle class families with no political background.