The Fourth Phase – 1973 Constitution and the Subsequent Steps

The Assembly of 1970 will always be remembered for electing a woman, Begum Dr. Ashraf Abbassi, as its Deputy Speaker for the first time in Pakistan’s parliamentary history.

When the Constitution Committee was formed in 1972, three ladies, Nasim Jahan, Mrs Jennifer Qazi and Begum Ashraf Abassi were made its members.

It was also during this time when another Woman Member, Mrs. Nargis Naeem was appointed as the first woman Parliamentary Secretary in the House.

The revival of parliamentary democracy and the subsequent passage of the first consensus Constitution of Pakistan in 1973 enabled a sea-change in women’s parliamentary participation when women were not only provided with 10 reserved berths in the Lower House but the then Government of the country’s first elected Prime Minster, Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto also supported women to the Upper House, the Senate. As a result, Samia Usman was elected as the first woman Senator. Besides, it was also in 1974 when Begum Rana Liaqat Ali Khan was appointed as the Governor of the province of Sindh — the first and only woman to take oath of such an exalted position so far in Pakistan’s 74 years of history.

This trend was vigorously followed when women’s parliamentary strength rose to 10 after the general elections in 1977. The new Assembly elected the following women on reserved seats:

 Women Members on Reserved Seats in the National Assembly of Pakistan March 1977- July 1977

Sr. No.NameConstituency
1Begum Kulsoom SaifullahNWFP
2Mrs. Nargis NaeemPunjab
3Mrs. Dilshad BegumPunjab
4Begum Nafisa KhalidPunjab
5Begum Bilqis HabibullahPunjab
6Mrs. Samia UsmanPunjab
7Miss Mubarak BegumPunjab
8Begum Nusrat BhuttoSindh
9Mrs. Nasima Sultana AkmutSindh
10Mrs. Bilqis BegumBalochistan

Source: Library of National Assembly of Pakistan Records

In addition to the above, one more woman, Mrs. Shavak Rustum, was also elected against one of the seats reserved for the minorities.

The elections of 1977 are also historic for the fact that in these elections, a woman, Begum Naseem Wali Khan, was directly elected for the first time from any general seat. She returned successful from two constituencies of the North West Frontier Province. Though Begum Naseem never took oath as a Member because of the Opposition’s boycott, nevertheless it remains an unbroken record in its own right since no other woman has since then been able to get elected from this province on a general seat.