The Sixth Phase – Return of Democracy and Party Politics

The year 1988 saw historic changes on the political landscape of the country. Military Dictator General Zia died in a plane crash. In its aftermath, party-based elections were held in the country after 11 years on November 16, 1988. As a result, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto became the first woman Prime Minister of not only Pakistan but in the entire Muslim World. This election also witnessed the election of at least four women from general seats, three of them getting elected from more than one constituency.

 Women Members Elected on General Seats in the National Assembly of Pakistan 1988- 1990

Sr. No.NameConstituency
1Begum Nusrat Bhutto (PPP)NA-24 Chitral & NA-164 Larkana I
2Begum Abida Hussain (IND)NA-67 Jhang II & NA-68 Jhang III
3Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (PPP)NA-94 Lahore,  NA-166 Larkana III & NA-189 Karachi (S)-I
4Dr. Ashraf Khatoon Abbassi (PPP)NA-165 Larkana II

Source: Library of National Assembly of Pakistan Records

Besides, this 8th National Assembly also had other 20 women members on reserved seats.

 Women Members Elected on Reserved Seats in the National Assembly of Pakistan 1988- 1990

Sr. No.NameConstituency
1Begum Rehana Sarwar (PPP)Punjab
2Begum Sarwari Sadiq (IJI)Punjab
3Begum Ndira Khan Khakwani (PPP)Punjab
4Mrs. Amina Paracha (PPP)Punjab
5Mrs. Razia Sultana (IND)Punjab
6Mrs. Shahnaz Begum (PPP)Punjab
7Begum Rehana Aleem Mashahdi (IJI)Punjab
8Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali (PPP)Punjab
9Mrs. Abida Malik (PPP)Punjab
10Dr. Attiya Inayatullah (IJI)Punjab
11Mrs. Aamira Ehsan (IJI)Punjab
12Mrs. Nasreen Begum (PPP)Punjab
13Mrs. Shamim N.D. Khan (PPP)Sindh
14Dr. Mrs. Mehmooda Shah (PPP)Sindh
15Mrs. Ruqia Khanum Soomro (PPP)Sindh
16Mrs. Zareen Majeed (Haq Parast)Sindh
17Malik Mehr-un-Nisa Afridi (PPP)N.W.F.P.
18Begum Kalsoom Saifullah (IJI)N.W.F.P.
19Mrs. Samina Razak (PPP)Balochistan
20Bibi Amina JUL(F)Balochistan

Source: Library of National Assembly of Pakistan Records

Mohtarma’s election as Prime Minister brought about a revolution in women’s political and parliamentary role. The Assembly elected Dr. Ashraf Abbassi once again as its Deputy Speaker while the Federal Cabinet had some 5 women as Ministers, which included Begum Nusrat Bhutto as Senior Minister, Begam Rehana Sarwar as Federal Minister for Women Development, Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali as Minister of State for Education, Begum Mehmooda Shah as Minister of State for Social Welfare and Begum Nadir Khakwani as Minister of State for Population Welfare.

It was also in 1988 when one woman Dr. Noor Jahan Panazai was elected as Senator from Balochistan. She also served as the first woman Deputy Chairperson of the Upper House from 1991 to 1993. She however remained the lone woman legislator in the Chamber for the whole period of six years.