ISLAMABAD: Civil society activists on Monday submitted a petition to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) challenging the results of the by-elections in PK-95, Lower Dir, on the grounds that women were not allowed to vote.
The petition which was initiated by human rights activist Farzana Bari, was signed by activists from various non-governmental organisations including Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
Women workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) also participated in the protest and decried the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, led by their own party, for failing to ensure the rights of women.
PTI member Fauzia Kasuri said she had expressed serious reservations about the apathy shown by her party’s provincial chapter towards the issue.
“I am participating in the protest as a women rights activist,” she said.
Women in the constituency were barred from voting
Farzana Bari said the Election Commission should not notify the results of this by-election as it was based on improper voting patterns.
“We also demand that all political parties in the province come forward to protect the rights of women and discourage restrictions against women voters,” she said.
The election in PK-95 was held on May 7, 2015 after the seat was vacated by Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq who was recently elected to the Senate. JI candidate Izazul Mulk, who was also backed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) won the by-election for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly from the constituency.
There are 127,096 registered voters in the PK-95 constituency of Lower Dir and 53,000 of the registered voters are women. However, a tribal jirga barred the women from voting at the Khazana Polling Station in Dir during the current elections. The decision by the jirga resulted in a low turnout of women across the constituency. The Election Commission is expected to announce a decision on the petition on Tuesday.
Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2015