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Disenfranchisement trend ends in Dir

Updated February 21, 2018

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A woman casts vote at a polling station in Talash on Tuesday. — Photo by Haleem Asad
A woman casts vote at a polling station in Talash on Tuesday. — Photo by Haleem Asad

TIMERGARA: Over 1,000 women in Lower Dir on Tuesday exercised their right to vote ending a decades old trend of women’s disenfranchisement in the district.

Re-polling on 21 seats of local government councils, including two of tehsil councils’ wards, 13 seats of general councillors, five seats of youth councillors and one seat of peasant worker were held in different areas of Lower Dir.

Shahikhel Talash tehsil council seat was won by a PPP candidate, upsetting the JI candidate who had won the seat on Dec 21 last year. The Dec 21 elections were later cancelled for virtually no participation of women voters.

Now, majority of women registered voters in Talash area turned up and exercised their right to vote. Political observers termed voting by women in Dir as a good omen for future of the district.

Over 1,000 women cast vote in LG by-elections

A total of 255 women polled their votes at the government girls school, Ziarat Talash, while over 300 women took part in Shalpalum council, the most conservative and remote area of Lower Dir.

The JI retained its tehsil council seat in Samar Bagh where reports about an unwritten accord among the parties to boycott the process were circulated in the area.

According to unofficial results, the JI candidate got 299 votes, PTI’s Sarbiland Khan bagged 67 and ANP candidate 38 only.

Only 11women in this area exercised their right to vote. The turnout in Samar Bagh remained low as majority of the voters were confused about re-polling.

In Adenzai, PTI lost its two seats and ANP won one seat. On two general seats in Khungi Timergara council, people boycotted re-polling and only three votes were polled. In Adenzai, QWP won two seats while ANP retained one seat of general councillor. The turnout, especially of women, remained low and voters did not show much interest in re-polling.

Majority of voters blamed the Election Commission of Pakistan for not setting up separate polling stations for women and short time for electioneering. The ECP had set up 13 polling stations for men, 10 for women and 51 combined both for men and women voters.

In Khungi and Tazagram councils, all the parties boycotted re-polling. Earlier, the seat had been won by ANP Ulfat Hayat. Talking to this scribe, he said that he was unable to bring the voters out of their homes.

In Kohat, village councillors returned successful on one each male and female seat in Shawaki and Mandori in re-polling held on Tuesday.

The official of the election commissioner office, Kohat, Nauman told this correspondent that in the last polls on both the seats were cancelled as women voters’ turnout was zero.

He said that this time 24 per cent votes had been polled in Shawaki and six per cent in Mandori. Noshad Khan was declared successful on Shawaki seat and Gulnaz Bibi on a seat in Mandori.

In Lakki Marwat, Local bodies’ by-election on the only seat of woman councillor in Bakhmal Ahmadzai village council was held on Tuesday.

According to unofficial results released by returning officer Insafur Rehman Khattak, Qisam Jana Bibi was elected as councillor by securing 421 votes. Rahima Bibi got 408 votes while no vote was polled in favour of Shaheena Bibi.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2018