Pakistan Elects First Female Parliamentary Speaker

March 21, 2008 12:19 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The landslide victory of Fahmida Mirza is an important event for women in Pakistan and the political opposition to Pres. Pervez Musharraf.

30-Second Summary

Mirza, a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party, the party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is serving in her third parliamentary term.

She won the position of speaker thanks to support from the multi-party coalition that accounts for nearly two-thirds of the seats in the legislature and serves as the opposition to Musharraf’s party.

However, as the blog South Asia Biz notes, the fact that “she bagged more votes than the combined seats of her party and its allies,” suggests that members of Musharraf’s own party may have disregarded their candidate—who received 70 votes—and voted for Mirza.
In addition, a Gallup poll conducted last week shows that 88 percent of Pakistanis favor the coalition over the governing party.

“The election of Fahmida Mirza as speaker will be a big step toward the empowerment of women in Pakistan,” said Shah Mahmood Qureshi, a high-ranking member of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

Mirza is a physician by education and was raised in a political family in the province of Sindh, where her husband serves on the provincial assembly.

Headline Link: ‘Pakistan Swears in Female Speaker’

Key Player: Fahmida Mirza

Analysis: Empowerment and reconciliation

Reference: Pakistan and the PPP

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