With dozens of her supporters, both men and women, young and elderly, Hafeeza Noor led her electoral rally on Sunday along the narrow streets of Shah Baig Lane and Baghdadi areas of Lyari.
Noor, aged around 50, is running for the post of the vice chairperson in the local government polls on a Pakistan People’s Party ticket in Lyari’s UC-7, one of the more “sensitive” union committees of the city.
“I am thankful to the party leadership, especially the area’s office-bearers who recommended my name for the post,” Noor told The News at her election office in Shah Baig Lane.
Associated with the PPP since its inception, Noor and her family have remained active in the politics of the city, especially in Lyari.
During Nawaz Sharif’s first government in 1992, Noor and other PPP leaders were imprisoned in Adiala Jail for participating in an anti-government long march. She spent 18 days in jail.
She is currently the finance secretary of the PPP Karachi women wing and has also remained a city council member in 2001 on a reserved seat for women.
Noor said her nomination for the slot of the vice chairperson showed that the party had changed politically over the years. In the past, she added, top leaders were chosen as candidates in Lyari.
“As an old guard and a woman, the party preferred me rather than many male aspirants for the position,” she said.
The PPP has given the ticket for the chairperson slot to Lala Aashiq Ali, a former footballer.
Noor said her biggest inspiration were Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. “Both Bhuttos had dreamt of women’s participation in mainstream politics and today my nomination shows that the party still adheres to their policies,” she added.
Before Noor, the PPP leadership had fielded the then 26-year-old Saniya Naz for a provincial assembly seat in Lyari during the general election of 2013. The residents of Lyari had elected her as their MPA.
At Noor’s office, dozens of women and men were sitting around her.
Hanifa Laal Muhammad, an elderly PPP supporter, said not only the party’s female activists but all women in the area were happy over the allotment of ticket to Noor. “Dozens of women, along with Noor, participate in corner meetings and participate in door-to-door canvassing in the streets of Shah Baig Lane and Baghdadi,” she added.
Analysts believe that Noor will easily win the election as the neighbourhood is a PPP stronghold.
Around 80 percent of the constituency comprises Baloch residents. The rest belong to Kutchi and Hindu communities.
Iqbal Baloch, the PPP South district deputy information secretary, said rival groups were spreading baseless rumours that the PPP could not find candidates in Lyari.
“In UC-7, which comprises Shah Baig Lane and Baghdadi areas and is considered a ‘most-sensitive’ union committee, we have fielded a female candidate,” he added. “It’s enough to dispel such rumours.”