Balochistan’s brave daughter who challenged an established perception

Ayesha Zehri continued her journey despite all odds, tribal taboos

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By Syed Muhammad Yaseen:

“I feel pain and heartache when I see the plight of women”, Engineer Ayesha Zehri, who serves as assistant commissioner in Balochistan’s Chaghi district says. Despite all odds and tribal taboos, Ayesha Zehri continued her educational journey in Khuzdar and subsequently qualified the Provincial Competitive Service (PCS) in 2017.

On the eve of international women day, the Quetta Voice has exclusively spoken to Balochistan’s brave daughter who has been serving in the province’s one of the most backward districts i.e. Chaghi, where Pakistan conducted its first nuclear explosions on May 28, 1998.

“I can feel pain of women when I see women from down-trodden class here”, Ayesha Zehri who got double gold medal in 2015 from Khuzdar Engineering University. She got first position in middle level examination throughout Khuzdar district and highest position in school.

In Balochistan, women have almost no political, social and economic rights in a male dominated society with less tolerance for women segment. Female literacy rate paints a bleak picture in Balochistan with most of the women deprived of education.

“Female should come out of their homes and study and men should give them a chance and tolerate them”, she said. Common people are happy here but some bureaucrats are not feeling comfortable with me as the assistant commissioner serving in one of the troubled and backward parts of Balochistan, she mentioned. Some time back, Engineer Ayesha Zehri’s video went viral against an officer prompting harsh response from political, social, and civil society activists on social and formal media. She complained that levies thana in Dalbandin was not cooperating rather creating problems at the behest of deputy commissioner when she seized smuggled goods. The Chief Minister Balochistan, Jam Kamal Khan then ordered inquiry into the incident, which is yet to be made public.

For last three months, she has been serving in Dalbandin district Chaghi as an assistant commissioner. During this short period, she has been issued around 20 show cause notices. “I am being discouraged rather than encouraged to perform my duties”, Ayesha Zehri said.

As far as her achievements are concerned, she has deposited 115000 rupees in government treasury while fining people for price hike. Her predecessor had just deposited Rs. 8000 for whole year in this account.

Ayesha Zehri’s name also came in the lime light when she conducted a raid and recovered a young man Abdul Hadi. Hadi was kidnapped from Balochistan’s Chaghi district and kidnappers were demanding Rs. 40 million as ransom. One kidnapper was arrested and Hadi was recovered unharmed. Similarly, she fined a Qatari royal party conducting illegal hunting in Chaghi district.

In Balochistan’s Chaghi district socio-economic indicators are extremely with increasing poverty and unemployment rate. In Chaghi’s Barabcha area there is no girls primary school for over 32000 population. The area borders with neighboring Afghanistan.

“Women can make a difference look at Finland where from Prime Minister to all key ministers are all women”, Ayesha Zehri said. Women can run States if given chance, she insisted. Ayesha Zehri has been considered to be one of the heroes of Balochistan. She challenged an established perception that women should be confined and limited to four walls.

When Quetta Voice spoke to her, she was at Pak-Iran border Taftan taking care of Zaireen (Shia pilgrims) quarantined to halt the spread of deadly corona virus. Pakistan has closed its border with Iran and Afghanistan to halt the spread of corona virus, which has spread around 85 countries except Antarctica.

In Balochistan, there is no dearth of talent among women segment of society. Ayesha Zehri is not an exception rather there are countless daughters, sisters and women who challenged social and tribal taboos and brought exemplary changes in their families and society. To be precise, there are countless unsung women heroes in Balochistan among female segment of society who are yet to make any news. Today’s AuratAzadiMarch may highlight woes of women in the mainstream but female segment is yet to be heard and supported in Balochistan. Growing militarization and radicalization have pressed women voices in Balochistan in recent past.

The author is a pre medical student and writes on various issues from Balochistan

He can be contacted @YStorai on twitter

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