Imran Khan waging relentless war against mafias Women empowerment, reforms in society not possible without changing traditional mindset: Neelum Toru


Exclusive Interview
Zubair Qureshi

Prime Minister Imran Khan is waging a relentless war against mafias and is holding the corrupt accountable in line with his promise with the nation before the 2018 general elections.
Besides war against the corrupt, Imran Khan and his team are also making untiring efforts for or the empowerment of the oppressed and the suppressed segments of society and under his leadership, Pakistan is destined to achieve unprecedented success and glories unattained so far.
These views were expressed by Vice President of the Insaf Women Wing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and ex-chairperson of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on Status of Women (KPCSW) Neelum Khan Toru during an exclusive interview with Pakistan Observer.
Hailing from the well known clan of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan Toru (District Mardan) Neelum Toru is the first woman of her family to have ventured into the realm of politics. Though fiercely resisted in the beginning, her family has now come to terms seeing her passion to serve her people, particularly the women of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and her unflinching trust in the leadership of Imran Khan.
“I joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 2010 and it was solely because he won laurels for his country and I had no reason to doubt that once given power and authority, he would steer the ship of the country’s destiny out of troubled waters,” said Neelum.
After coming to power in KP in 2013, the PTI unveiled a number of reforms programmes in health, governance, education and environment protection. Neelum Khan was the party’s choice, of course with the endorsement of Imran Khan, to take over the office of the chairperson of the KPCSW.
As the chairperson of the commission and even earlier, during the PTI election campaign in 2013 Neelum chanced to visit the far flung and remote areas of the province (where in ordinary conditions one cannot simply imagine to visit), in Kohistan, Chitral, Dir, formerly FATA areas and there she saw how women were living secluded lives, entirely dependent on the male members of their families and completely isolated from the outside world.
As chairperson of the KPCSW, I took upon myself to do something that could bring change in their lives and I believe Imran Khan’s vision of women empowerment can be realized through empowerment of women.
As chairperson of KPCSW (2013-2018) Neelum Khan took many steps which were appreciated not only by her party and the KP government but the international donors also acknowledged her work.
Neelum Khan termed preparation of the draft bill of Child Marriage Restrain (Amendment) Bill 2016, Christian Marriage & Divorce Act as landmark achievements of KPCSW. The Child Marriage Restrain Act however could not sail through the assembly. Another big achievement of her tenure was work on establishment of District Committees on Status of Women (DCSW) as in each of the 26 districts of the province the commission proposed a committee to monitor domestic violence against women, gender based violence and harassment against women, etc. We proposed a handsome monthly remuneration of Rs30,00 for the chairperson and if these committees were notified by the provincial government they would literally bring a revolution in the lives of the women in the entire province, said she.
The commission also worked and prepared Gender Management Information System (GMIS), providing data on violence against women, be it political violence (denial of the right to vote), local violence, GBV or other civic issues.
Were KPCSW’s recommendations implemented by the assembly and the provincial government, there would have been a meaningful positive change in the lives of women, she lamented.
When asked if she thought the PTI government in KP failed to implement its leader Imran Khan’s vision of the empowerment of women, Neelum Khan said they were willing but bureaucracy and the religious hardliners were the ones who created hurdles and were not ready to accept the change, she regretted. To a question, if she thought KP girls were talented, she said women and girls in KP were making their mark in every field of life. Our girls living in the rural areas showed exemplary results despite the fact they didn’t enjoy access to modern day facilities. One shining example is Lt Gen Nigar Johar HI (M) who is the first woman officer, promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General. She is from District Swabi, KP and this will go a long way in empowerment of the women of Pakistan in general and the KP in particular, said Neelum Toru.

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