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55,000 Sahiwal rural women lack CNICs

November 06, 2016

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SAHIWAL: Up to 55,000 women ages 18 years and above in rural areas of Sahiwal have not got their computerised national identity cards (CNICs), according to a report by the ‘Deepening Democracy and Election Support in Pakistan’ (DESP), a local partner of the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen).

DESP District Coordinator Amir Shakeel says the backlog is due to the non-availability of the mobile registration van for rural localities.

The DESP came to the figures when it compared the 1998 census data on women to the voters lists prepared for the recently held local government elections. The women mentioned in the census data should have been 18 years old or above in 2015 but the voters lists do not represent them (because of the lack of CNICs).

Mr Shakeel says they had launched a CNIC registration campaign in rural areas where women voters’ registration was lower than men.

Villages like Koray Shah Zarain, 93/6-R, 90 /9-L, 103 /9-L and 47/5-L have 35 to 30 per cent less women from their male counterparts on voters lists.

In 68/4-R, the registered voters are 1,762, of them 1,122 males and 640 females. According to the census data, 482 women ages 18 or above are not registered with electoral rolls because of the lack of CNICs.

Khawar Farid, schoolteacher of 56/G-D, told Dawn that in the rural localities, getting the CNIC issued for women was not a priority.

“Rural women’s mobility is a big issue,” he said.

The mobile van of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) for rural areas stopped its operation for the last two years, Fafen’s Rasheed Choudhry

A source close to the situation told Dawn that Nadra should have come up with an online registration mechanism in its vans. When Nadra started working in the early 2000s, in Multan region alone, there were 15 to 18 such vans, which now had been withdrawn, a Nadra employee said.

Mr Shakeel says they had written to Nadra seeking vans for women’s registration in Sahiwal but in vain.

At the intervention of MPA Malik Muhammad Arshad, a van was recently provided to the DESP for the rural residents.

This correspondent talked to the van (GA-4249) staff in 56/GD. The staff said they had been called from Khanewal and in three days, they had registered 250 women.

Mr Shakeel says one van is not enough to cover 55,000 women of the district.

Faiq Ali Chachar, Nadra Media Cell in charge in Islamabad, did not comment on the situation.

A local Nadra official, seeking anonymity, said though the authority had developed three sub-offices in rural localities of Sahiwal — Kameer, Harappa and 90 Morr — but women were not being facilitated by and large.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2016