TRADITION, particularly those pernicious aspects of it that serve to empower one segment of the population at the expense of the other, is never easy to counter. But countered it must be if human rights are to be uniformly applied across Pakistan. That is why the ECP should resist the determined attempts in parts of the country to keep women voters disenfranchised despite the re-polling held on its orders on May 23 at two polling stations in Battagram after receiving complaints that women voters registered there were not allowed to cast their ballot on May 11. Reportedly, not a single woman came to vote throughout the day of re-polling either. As a consequence, according to the local election official, the previous result would be retained.

The ECP had acted correctly in ordering the re-poll, thereby sending the message that women must be able to freely exercise their right of franchise. It should do the same wherever misogynistic tactics were employed in the recent elections, and several instances of agreements between local chapters of political parties to restrain women from voting have come to light. However, for the ECP to accept the outcome of the re-poll in the Battagram constituency as a fait accompli is to hand victory to the regressive mindset that sees women as having no right to public space and no voice in the political sphere. Moreover, to believe that women willingly did not even take the second opportunity to exercise their right of franchise is to allow hidebound elements to pull wool over our eyes. The fact is that those who restrained women from voting on May 11 could have ‘persuaded’ them otherwise this time around, had they chosen to do so. The ECP should take an unequivocal stand on the issue and annul the results of this constituency. Those who have won the election by depriving women of their vote do not deserve a place in the assemblies.

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Comments (6)

Dr Imran Ahmed
May 26, 2013 7:36 pm

Under natural justice or under Human Rights legislation it is the duty of the SC to declare the results of any election where a section of the electorate, perhaps more than half, is disenfranchised, to be invalid. These "elected" candidates must be barred from entry to parliament.

Iqbal Carrim
May 26, 2013 4:49 pm
This does not have to be an issue if it has not been in the manifesto of the party which will now govern the country.
asif
May 26, 2013 8:55 pm
this issue needs powerful legislation and changing of behavior too.
Sam
May 26, 2013 10:59 pm
As long as any discussion of the violation of women's rights begins with the apologia that "Islam gave rights to women in the seventh century and is far superior to XYZ in that regard", this sort of stuff will keep on happening. Please Pakistan, come into the 19th century, never mind the 21st, and stop bringing up imagined glories of faraway deserts as matters of debate points.
Syed A. Zafar (USA)
May 27, 2013 2:35 am
"Those who have won the election by depriving women of their vote do not deserve a place in the assemblies" That is right. But who is willing to punish those who signed such unlawful agreement against women? Will the SC or its subordinate ECP take any action against such parties/leaders? If not, why not? In my opinion It is a double standard of SC/ECP and the right wing parties. It is amazing that those who stop women from voting, use women for dharnas and taking votes in certain other places. And when it comes to trying such parties/leaders, the SC/ECP not only avoids taking actions against them, but also finds ways to cool such issues down like re-polling on the same place even knowing that no women will be allowed to vote there again. I believe it is a gimmick by the right wing oriented ECP and SC. Who does not know that PTI, JI and PMLN are the staunch supporters and cause of reinstatement of current judiciary. How can SC/ECP go against their own supporters? But, when it comes to their own personal enemies or the enemies of the their supporters, they do not leave any stone unturned to disqualify and punish them even at the cost of disregarding judicial norms/grace. Please take a look at the list of those election contestants who were mostly qualified, Of course they were from right wing religious parties, and those who were mostly rejected were from liberal/secular parties. Who does not know what was the motive behind SC/ECP's order of delimitation in Karachi and who benefited from it? Think about it: What if Mr. Musharraf was allowed to take part in elections? if he and another Urdu speaking liberal leader from MQM and even PPP and ANP leadership have signed such document to stop women from voting, what would have been the level of judicial/ECP anger and actions against them and what kind of hell would have been created by right wing supporters and their mainstream media? Pakistan is not only a victim of religious extremism/terrorism but also it is a victim of institutional, provincial, ethnic and linguistic biases. zafarsyed40@yahoo.com
Riaz Ahmad
May 27, 2013 4:35 pm
What right have the men to bar women from participating in elections. Are we living in 12th century feudalism or 21st century democracy? Keep religion a light year away from politics or the Taliban will impose on you their Islamic tyranny one day. Half the inhabitants of the country will have at least one hand cut off in the first year of their rule. Public lashing will replace cricket as national spectator sport.
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