Islamabad - Shabana Robin, a Christian woman, is dreaming to bring about a change in the male dominated local government elections as she has challenged strong candidates from different political parties and backgrounds in her constituency.

Robin hopes for a combination of luck and public support when the residents of Islamabad go to polls to elect local representatives on November 30. She is contesting for a chairperson’s slot in union council number 28 which includes posh sectors of F-7, E-7, F-8, F-9 and Blue Area.

The daring lady has three children to care for but she is now sacrificing her family’s time to concentrate on vigorous campaigning to do what has not been done before. All odds are against her – she is a woman, a Christian and belongs to a communist party — Awami Workers Party.

But this has not discouraged her and her supporters who are campaigning in France Colony with a slogan to elect a member who knows their difficulties and can feel their deprivation.

Being an inhabitant of France Colony, she believes no one can better understand their issues of shelter, water, gas, electricity and sanitation except a person elected from themselves.

In the first ever local government election of the federal capital, as many as 351 women have been contesting for 100 reserved seats in 50 union councils but there are only a few who have ventured into the contest of chairman and vice-chairman. Robin is one of those five women contesting for the office of chairman/vice chairman among 255 candidates.

The big guns contesting for the slot are Waqar Bakhtawari, an independent candidate from a family that owns the chain of D Watson pharmacies in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Khalid Bhatti, a joint candidate of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Jamaat-i-Islami, Syed Ali Shah of Pakistan People’s Party, Fauzia Irshad of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf etc.

Outside the France Colony situated along a market of F-7, the candidates have set up their camps displaying banners spattered with the names and faces of the candidates contesting for various slots. But Robin and her party neither do believe in camp politics nor have they resources for this. She has been busy in door-to-door campaigns since last week along with her husband, Robin Masih, vice chairperson Amina Mawaz and other party workers.

Being a housewife, initially she was reluctant to step into politics but the support of her husband and party members encouraged her to stand for the seat. “As I am neither well qualified and holds only secondary school certificate nor have I much public exposure so I was a bit hesitant but now I want to work for the people of my area,” she said.

She finishes her household chores by noon, serves lunch to her three children when they return from schools and then spares time for evening campaign. “While busy at home I keep thinking what I will say to the people and how I will respond to their queries about various issues during campaign,” she said.

People of this area deserve the same facilities and rights as those living in the posh sectors, she asserted. “The civic agency has given no water connection to this area. The residents use water boring machines. Likewise, no garbage truck comes here for trash collection,” she added.  

The people of this colony live in constant fear, she goes on. “The fear that their houses will be inundated with nullah water flowing through the colony when it rains, the fear that authorities can start operation any time to evict those who have not acquired legal possessions.” 

Though she has not delivered a proper speech yet in front of a gathering yet she is preparing for it. “But I cannot make false promises,” she said. “I will not make pledges that I know I can’t fulfil later on. I say to them that I will try my best to help resolve their issues using all powers that the office of chairman gives.”

She says that the other candidates are just here till the votes are cast but she is going to stay here because she is amongst them. “People can come to my home anytime as I live with them. But they will need to wait or take appointment to meet other candidates if they get selected,” she added.

In the face of campaign spending by other candidates, she says, “she will continue to work for the people of France Colony even if they reject her in the polls.”