PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Eng Iqbal Zafar Jhagra has said that 60 per cent population of the country is consisted of youth whose right to exercise their verdict as registered voters is also of national importance.

He was addressing a ceremony to observe National Voters Day as per the initiative of Election Commission of Pakistan at Governor’s House in Peshawar on Wednesday.

Retired Justice Irshad Qaisar, Member and Provincial Election Commissioner Mussarrat Khan also addressed the ceremony. Provincial Senior Minister Inayatullah Khan, MPAs Shah Hussain and Meraj Humayun as well vice-chancellors of different universities and students were also present on the occasion. The ceremony was followed by a walk.

The governor said that it was vital to strengthen democratic system in the country.

“Importance of casting vote is also must for consolidation of democratic process as it is the best way to bringing a positive change in the system of governance in the country,” he added.

Referring to election arrangements in Fata, Mr Jhagra said that participation of the respective people on the adult franchise basis was ensured and according to the proposed reforms process. He added that local government elections were also supposed to be held by the end of 2017 in Fata.

In Khyber Agency, the function of National Voters Day was delayed for three hours owing to lack of interest by officials of political administration, local elders and representatives of political parties and civil society.

The function was organised by Khyber Agency office of ECP in Jamrud. The office had invited almost all the stakeholders in the region to the function to highlight the importance of registration of vote and vote casting along with the procedure of registration of vote.

The EC Khyber office had fixed 10am for the function but late arrival of the participants delayed it for over two and a half hours. A number of local elders, to whom this scribe talked to prior to the start of the function, said that they were never conveyed any invitation.

Few representatives of the political parties who had made it to the venue were also late by another full hour.

Mohammad Bilal, Khyber Agency Election Officer, gave a detailed briefing about the process of registration of vote.

The question answer session proved that local elders and political workers had little knowledge about the process of registration of vote. Most of the questions were asked about National Database and Registration Authority and anomalies in the previous voters list.

Most of the attendants were not even aware about the locations where the new voter lists were exhibited. Even they didn’t know about the officials, whom they were supposed to approach for correction in the data or for verification.

In Lakki Marwat, speakers at a seminar called for increasing the number of polling stations for female voters besides facilitating them to cast vote near their homes.

The seminar was arranged by district office of ECP in connection with National Voters Day that was attended by people from different walks of life.

The speakers stressed the need for creating awareness among people about their constitutional right to vote. They said that citizens could play a vital role in national development by using their right of franchise in elections.

“Those, who do not come out of their homes on polling day, have no right to criticise public representatives and rulers,” they said, adding that fate of the nation could be changed through the power of vote.

The speakers said that civil society and media should launch a campaign to ensure registration of all eligible people as voters. They said that women and disabled persons should be encouraged to get them registered as voters and use their constitutional right to vote in elections.

Later the participants of the seminar held a walk. In Kohat, a seminar was held in connection with National Voters Day.

Speakers at the seminar said that every patriotic citizen should cast vote to determine the destiny of country according to his wishes. They said that ballot was not only a piece of paper but it determined the kind of democracy in the country. They said that voters could play their due role in progress and prosperity of the country.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2016