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Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islami pledges to restore dignity for women

When women held signs and chanted slogans as they took part in the Women's March in Karachi, Pakistan in 2018. [Reuters]

About four million women in Pakistan’s Karachi are working in factories on a contract basis, devoid of basic rights and necessities.

Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Chief Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman while addressing a women’s convention in Karachi said mothers, sisters, and daughters are deprived of basic amenities amid concerns of worsening Global Gender Gap Index.

Rehman said despite 'seminars' being held for women’s rights from time to time things remain unchanged on the ground.

Jamaat-e-Islami, or Jamaat as it is simply known, is an Islamist political party and it is the Pakistani successor to Jamaat-e-Islami, which was founded in colonial India in 1941.

While highlighting Karachi’s worsening condition in regards to women, Rehman said that JI was the 'only hope' for about 35 million people living in the city and asserted that when in power, the party would respect and solve the issues of women.

Discussing the general living conditions of the city last weekend, the JI leader said while Karachi is running Pakistan's entire economy, it is infested with the menace of corruption and looting in the hands of the few.

He also lamented the lack of an effective transportation system and the rise in street crimes in the city which he said were on a spike due to poor governance by the provincial authorities.

In 2013, Clerics in northwest Pakistan issued a temporary ban on women shopping unless accompanied by a male relative, in a step designed to keep men from being distracted during the holy month of Ramadan.

Police supported the ban, announced over mosque loudspeakers and said unaccompanied women would be arrested and shopkeepers may be punished for selling items to women on their own.

The ban was proposed by a faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party led by Fazl-ur-Rehman.

In matters of politics, such religious parties have typically performed poorly in elections, winning only a handful of seats.

But mainstream politicians are often slow to criticize religious leaders, partly for fear of being targeted by their supporters.

Pakistan’s General Election is scheduled to be held less than 60 days after the dissolution of the national Assembly on August 13, 2023.

Unless dissolved earlier, the election shall be held within 90 days after dissolution. This means that the election must be held by or before October 12, 2023.

In his sentiments, Rehman said Karachi happens to be an unlucky city as most political parties turn up from hibernation in the metropolitan city ahead of elections and then go back to dormancy right after the polls.

He said for instance, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had paid a visit to Karachi but offered only lip service instead of making any major decision.

“Once this was the constituency for Shehbaz Sharif when he was in the opposition, and now the same Shehbaz Sharif is enjoying the most powerful post in the country, while Baldia Town in the city has turned into a shambles,” he said.

He said if elected, he would transform Karachi into a city of lights.