Hindu woman doctor makes history by contesting provincial polls in Pakistan

Dr. Saveera Prakash

Peshawar: Dr. Saveera Prakash, a 25-year-old Hindu woman doctor, has created history by becoming the first woman from the minority community to run for the provincial elections in Pakistan’s troubled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province. Prakash, who is a candidate of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), filed her nomination papers on Friday for the PK-25 general seat in Buner district, a mountainous region in KPK. She also applied for a seat reserved for women in the KPK Assembly.

Prakash, who hails from a family of doctors and PPP activists, said she wants to serve the people of her constituency, especially the women and the poor, and improve the health facilities in the area. She said she was inspired by her father, Dr. Om Prakash, who retired recently after serving as a doctor for 35 years and being a loyal member of the PPP. She also said she received the support and encouragement of the party’s senator Rubina Khalid and other provincial leaders, who will officially hand over the party ticket to her at a PPP rally in Buner on Wednesday.

Prakash, who completed her medical degree from Abbottabad International Medical College in 2022, said she decided to join politics after witnessing the dismal state of the government hospitals and the lack of basic amenities for the people. She said she hopes to bring a positive change in the lives of the people and the society by winning the elections, which are scheduled to be held on February 8.

Dr. Saveera Prakash

Prakash’s candidature is a rare and remarkable feat in Pakistan, where the Hindu, Christian, and Sikh communities are minorities and face discrimination and persecution. According to the Constitution of Pakistan, 10 seats are reserved for non-Muslims in the National Assembly, 23 seats are reserved for non-Muslims in the four provincial assemblies, and four seats are reserved for non-Muslims in the Senate. However, these seats are usually filled by nomination, not by direct election, and the representation of minorities is often nominal and ineffective. Prakash is one of the few non-Muslims who have dared to contest from a general seat, where they have to compete with the Muslim majority.