Retired female officer from FATA’s Kurram Agency to contest general elections

Ali Begum is said to be the first woman contesting polls from Kurram Agency

Ali Afzaal

PARACHINAR: For what is said to be the first time in Kurram Agency of the Federal Administered Tribal Areas, a retired female civil officer has announced of contesting the general elections.

Not only has Ali Begum decided to give her name for the polls, but has also started campaigning for her victory.

At a public meeting held recently, Ali Begum said she wants to take part in the general elections and win from Kurram Agency so that she could work on the development of the area and help the oppressed get their due rights.

Ali Begum, an independent candidate, said she had been suggested to contest the polls but wanted to give others a chance. But now, the candidate added, she felt there was the need for her to step forward herself for the progress of the area she belongs to.

Ali Begum during her election campaign. Photo: Ali Afzaal/Geo News

While speaking about her plans for Kurram Agency as a public meeting, Ali Begum said she would spread a web of development projects if she wins from her constituency.

A retired civil servant, Ali Begum is said to be the first female bureaucrat from Fata after clearing her Public Service Commission exams.

Women in public is not a common sight in many parts of Fata, but it is not something unusual for Ali Begum who said she was the only girl studying at a boys school in her native area of Karman, Kurram Agency, where she was born and received her early education.

While talking to Ali Begum said she was also the only woman at Civil Secretariat Peshawar where she was appointed as the planning officer in 1983.

When asked how she was received by the people during her campaign, Ali Begum said locals attend her public meetings and listen to what she says. “It is a good sign.”

About being an inspiration to girls and women in her area, the candidate said it is motivating for them when they see her have freedom of mobility and being able to stand before the public to speak.

Photo: Ali Afzaal/Geo News

Being an advocate of girls education, Ali Begum said she has always tried to pave ways for the cause in whichever government department she was deployed.

“I would support the establishment of schools for girls when I was in the planning and education departments,” she said. “When Benazir Bhutto Shaheed visited Parachinar she left Rs20 million for locals but suggested the then governor to utilise the money in building a college for girls as the money would not reach the people [directly].”

Ali Begum added Kurram Agency now has three colleges for women, two of them are degree colleges in Parachinar and Sadda. “The one up till intermediate education is in Alizai.”

Foreseeing change with their efforts, Ali Begum said she wanted to win to restore peace in Kurram Agency.