Pakistan has a brand new government in place. People are clamoring for change and hoping that this new government will be able to improve the deep economic crisis and multitude of everyday issues that the people of the country are facing. The newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s federal cabinet finally took oath on Tuesday to shape up the 37-strong team. In the name of inclusivity, the government has inducted five women, who have over the years fought misogyny to reach this position.
Marriyum Aurangzeb has been assigned the portfolio of Information and Broadcasting, a role she is intimately familiar with, as she was the mouthpiece of the previous Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)(PML-N) government.
Immediately after completing her Master’s in development and environmental policy from the UK, Aurangzeb, just like her parents, placed her loyalties in PML-N’s camp in 2013 when she became a member of the National Assembly after being given the party’s reserved women’s seat.
In 2016, she first assumed office as the Minister for Broadcasting, Information, and National Heritage in then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet. She continued in her role even after Sharif was disqualified and replaced by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
She is one to watch out for, as recently Aurangzeb has been advocating for the rights of media persons and free speech, and has promised to end the “draconian censorship on Pakistani journalism.”
She was Pakistan’s first woman Senate opposition leader, vice-president of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and recipient of the Nishan-i-Imtiaz, Sherry Rehman has been tasked with leading Pakistan’s response to climate change as a Federal Minister.
According to the Senate website, the PPP stalwart has a long list of achievements. After completing her Master’s from the UK, Rehman started her professional career in journalism with The Daily Star and then became the editor-in-chief of The Herald.
After working in the field for nearly 20 years, Rehman stepped into politics in 2002 after being named a lawmaker on PPP’s reserved women’s seat. During her tenure, she has held important positions in the party, such as the central information secretary, president of policy planning, and member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
However, it was in 2008 when her political career truly kicked off after she was appointed federal minister for Information and Broadcasting. Rehman also served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US from 2011 to 2013 and became the first woman opposition leader in the Senate.
She is also the architect of the first parliamentary charter and bill for women’s empowerment, mover of the Hudood Ordinances Repeal Bill, mover of the Anti-Honour Killings Bill, as well as the Freedom of Information Act, 2004. Her bills include the removal of colonial press laws in Pakistan, as well as legislation on domestic violence and affirmative action for women.
Moreover, as a minister, she moved the first government bill of the 2008 National Assembly for the repeal of martial law-led anti-media clauses in the Electronic Media Regulatory Ordinance. In August 2008, Rehman’s move to repeal similar amendments in the Print and Publication Ordinance paved the way for constitutional protection for the print media (RTI Bill).
Rehman was also conferred with the Nishan-i-Imtiaz in March 2013.
Shazia Marri of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) will serve as Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Minister. She entered the National Assembly on a reserved women’s seat for the first time in 2013. Her political roots go back to her grandfather Ali Mohammad Marri, who was an MPA in the Sindh Assembly before the Partition of British India. Her father Ata Mohammad Marri was also a member of the National Assembly and a deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly. Her mother Perveen Ata Marri was an MPA as well.
The PPP leader was nominated and subsequently elected a member of the National Assembly after the death of Fauzia Wahab. Previously, she served as the provincial minister for information and culture.
Hina Rabbani Khar
In 2011, Pakistan appointed its first woman and also its youngest foreign minister — Hina Rabbani Khar, who took on the role at the age of 34.
Khar was born in the district of Muzaffargarh and received her education in the United States. She seamlessly moved from being a cabinet member in the government of General Pervez Musharraf to becoming one of the most popular ministers under President Asif Ali Zardari.
During her two-year term, Khar successfully carved out what is described as an innovative foreign policy, with an emphasis on the “regional pivot” strategy focused on improving relations with neighboring countries such as India and Afghanistan. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader was also an advocate of reducing Pakistan’s dependence on the US, which won her praise from experts.
Khar has been inducted as the State Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Shehbaz Sharif cabinet.
Aisha Ghaus Pasha
The former Finance Minister of Punjab and PML-N lawmaker Aisha Ghaus Pasha was nominated for the seat of the NA in 2018 on Maryam Nawaz’s recommendation.
As a policy adviser to provincial governments, her advice was heard and Shehbaz, the then chief minister of Punjab, asked her to join his cabinet. He managed to convince her saying he needed educated people to turn the economy around.
Pasha thinks about Pakistan beyond party politics. She believes that women’s issues like their representation in labor, assemblies, (and) the economy shouldn’t be politicized.
In the new cabinet of PM Shehbaz, she has been appointed as a state minister. Her portfolio has, however, not been revealed yet.
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.