MANSEHRA, March 16: Elders and clerics in Torghar are opposed to the women’s participation in polls and have conveyed it to the provincial Election Commission representatives that they’ll not let women in the district to be part of the upcoming electoral exercise.

“Women in Torghar are enthusiastic about using their legal right to vote but unfortunately, local ulema and elders are against it and have told us in plain words that they’ll not allow women to cast vote in the coming elections at any cost over tribal traditions,” Mohammad Zahid, a member of the district voter education committee, told Dawn on Saturday.

The committee is formed by the provincial election commission to create public awareness of voting in the district.

Torghar is going to vote for the first time after its status was changed from a semi-tribal area to a settled district in early 2011.

Mr Zahid, a representative of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said he had met women in Bassikhel area and Shagai and found them to be very keen about participation in elections.

He, however, said when he and other members of the voter education committee held meetings with local clerics and elders that they turned out to be staunch opponents of the idea of women going to polling stations to cast vote.

Mr Zahid said clerics and elders made it clear to the committee that they won’t allow women in the district to step out for voting.

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