PESHAWAR: The staying away of the women from the KP-95 Lower Dir by-election on Friday provoked an outcry with the Provincial Commission on the Status of Women, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, political parties and civil society organisations urging the Election Commission of Pakistan to ordered re-election in the constituency.

Provincial Commission on the Status of Women Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chairperson Neelum Toru told reporters at the Peshawar Press Club that the alleged barring of women from casting votes was a clear violation of the Constitution and therefore, the Election Commission should announce re-election in the constituency.

Other members of the commission, including MPA Meraj Humayun Khan, resident head of Aurat Foundation, Shabeena Ayaz, Rubina Naaz and Shaad Begum, who were also in attendance, said 50 percent of the population comprised women, so keeping them away from voting process was tantamount to depriving them of their constitutional rights.

They said Jamaat-i-Islami women lawmakers were members of the provincial and national assemblies on reserved seats but kept women away from the Dir election.

The commission members condemned the alleged agreement between Awami National Party and JI to keep away women from the election and feared that the practice was also expected in the upcoming local government elections.

They asked the provincial government to amend the Local Government Act to make the casting of votes by women voter mandatory.


Commission on women, parties, civil society demand re-election


The members stressed the need for legislation on the issue before elections saying this will help ensure that no one dare deprive women of their constitutional rights.

They warned if the demand was not accepted, they would move the court against the PK-95 Dir by-election.

Similarly, representatives of various political parties at a seminar demanded of the government to take notice of the non-participation of women in the by-election and ensure that women cast votes in future elections.

The seminar on local government elections was organised by Blue Veins and Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network at Peshawar Press Club on Friday wherein JI provincial Secretary Israrullah Khan Advocate, Pakistan Muslim League-N women wing leader Shaheen Habibullah, Awami National Party-(Wali) representative Gul Nawaz Mohmand, National Party leader Mukhtiar Bacha, Pakhtunkhwa Ulasi Tehreek Convener Dr Said Alam Mehsud, CSOs’ representatives Taimur Kamal, Zar Ali Khan Afridi, Engineer Toor Gul, M Riaz Marwat shared their views.

Earlier, Qamar Naseem of Blue Veins expressed reservations of the civil society organisations about the agreements of politicians against women voters and described it against basic human constitutional rights.

The speakers said that they would support any unconstitutional move and would raise voice for the constitutional rights of the women folk.

In a joint declaration, they said their parties will not become part of any agreement which aims to exclude female voters or women candidate.

The speakers said in case any of the candidates was found guilty of making such agreements in personal capacity to keep women voters away from the election process in future all the political parties would take joint action against him.

They pointed out that there were reports about agreements against women voters in 2013 general elections but no legal action was taken against candidates.

The speakers expressed the hope that the local government elections would bring a positive change in the political scenario of the province and therefore, all political parties should ensure 100 percent participation of women voters in the process.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2015

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