PESHAWAR, May 16: Women rights activists on Thursday complained of agreements among political parties and independent candidates for stopping women in many Khyber Pakhtunkhwa districts from casting vote on May 11, and demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan declare the results from all such constituencies void and ensure fresh polls.

Aurat Foundation resident director Shabeena Ayaz told a news conference here at Peshawar Press Club that ban on women voters led to a very low turnout of women voters in more than eight districts of the province.

She said the agreements among mainstream political and religious parties in PK-95, Lower Dir restraining women from casting ballots had forced women to stay away from exercising their franchise and therefore, the electoral exercise there was unfair.

Accompanied by member of National Commission on the Status of Women Zubaida Noor, members of Provincial Commission on the Status of Women, and representatives from civil society organisations, Ms Ayaz said Aurat Foundation had monitored pre- and post-election scenario, especially relating to women voters and their participation in the electoral process.

She said her organisation had timely informed ECP about the ban on women voters, but to no avail.

“Due to lack of corrective steps by ECP, a large number of women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were deprived of their right to vote on May 11,” she said.

Ms Ayaz said in the wake of the said agreement in Lower Dir, one woman out of the total 138,910 registered voters polled vote in the district, while 164,821 voters were registered in Buner district but only 17,655 women of them used their franchise in 11 polling stations.

She said the data had been collected from ECP.

The Aurat Foundation resident director said the two separate agreements among political parties in Upper and Lower Dir districts of ban on women voters before elections was an unconstitutional move to deprive women of their legitimate rights.

She said almost all mainstream liberal and religious political parties had signed the agreements in violation of the ECP code of conduct.

“No party took action against its people concerned over agreements,” she said, adding that pamphlets were also disseminated in the PK-95 constituency, warning women of dire consequences if they took part in the electoral process.

Ms Ayaz said ECP should take notice of the matter and ensure fresh elections in the said constituencies.

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