“I fail to understand what is Jamaat-e-Islami’s problem with Helen Keller ,” says Bushra Gohar, a politician from Awami National Party.

Ms BG gave reference of the known deaf-blind American author and political activist while narrating her party’s efforts to modernize the curriculum in KP during its government tenure.

During a discussion on the second day of Faiz Festival, she criticised the JI objections to syllabus in KP schools.

Currently in government, the JI says Islamic chapters had been removed in 2006 from syllabus. It wants secular chapters removed from the textbooks.

The topic of discussion was Bahar kay Imkan (Possibility of Spring)—Political Activism and the Way Forward. Rubina Rauf Khalid, Senator on PPP quota from KPK,  Dr Fouzia Hameed, MQM MNA on reserved seat for women from Sindh, Uzma Bukhari, PML-N MPA on reserved seat from Punjab and Shunila Ruth, PTI MPA on minority seat from Punjab were the others speaker. Syed Shamoon Hashmi, writer and public speaker, was the moderator.

The panellists discussed at length the issue of women empowerment in Pakistan during quarter to two hour long sitting, setting aside the comprehensive topic “political activism” which gripped the country especially during judges restoration movement of 2007 and speeded up after 2013’s general election.  The speakers discussed society’s covert affair with bigotry, saying racism and militancy were posing great threat to Pakistan.

Women politicians from PPP, PML-N, MQM and ANP condemned PTI chairman Imran Khan’s silence on Sharifa Bibi issue. They said it was a test case for not only for the PTI government that how it was going to set its agenda for women protection. 10 armed people from an influential family attacked a 15-year-old Sharifa in Chodhwan area of DI Khan few days ago and the local people said the attackers tore the clothes of the girl and paraded her necked in the streets. The girl was punished for the actions of her brother who reportedly had an affair with a girl from the rival family.

“It is shameful that such shocking incidents are taking place in our country even presence of different laws for women protection,” Ms Rubina pointed out. She said it was the first case in history of KP as women were always given great respect in Pashtoon society.

Dr Fouzia pointed out women legislators’ activism in parliament and said females legislators involved in running around 80 per cent of parliament business. But, she said, they (women) were fully ignored in decision making process as there was minor representation of women in cabinet.

Shunila highlighted the need to change the mindset of people about women and minorities. To a question, she replied the PTI was working to improve its manifesto for next election and women empowerment would be important factor of it. She was hopeful about future of women in Pakistani society. Uzma believed the approach of society towards every “sacred and secret affair” was changing.

“Women are more vibrant now. They are active in every field whether it is politics, policy making or field of science.”