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UPPER DIR: Women in Upper Dir were provided an opportunity of exercising their constitutional right to vote after over four decades as a large number of them polled their votes in the local government by-elections held in the district on Thursday.

Pakistan Peoples Party clinched all the four seats, including two tehsil seats and one each of general and youth councillors.

The tehsil councillor seat of Gawaldi union council was retained by PPP’s Anar Gul, who had also recorded victory in the last year’s by-election.

According unofficial results, PPP candidate Anar Gul got 1,819 votes while Dawood Shah of JI secured 944 votes.

In Darora PPP candidate Saifullah secured 1,498 votes to defeat JI candidate Izaz Ali Shah who got 1,120 votes. Shah had defeated Saifullah in the previous by-election on Dec 21, 2017 on the same seat.

Chukiatan village council’s general seat was clinched by PPP candidate Sadiqullah, while for Dir Khan village council’s youth’s seat the PPP candidate defeated JI candidate.

On all these seats, the previous by-elections were declared null and void by the Election Commission of Pakistan due no participation of women. Re-election on these seats was announced and on Thursday the women voters came out in large number and exercised their right to vote.

The last time the women here had voted was in elections in 1977. On Thursday, it was after over four decades that the women in Upper Dir were provided an opportunity to vote.

A women voter said that it was indeed a historical moment for them and they thanked ECP for providing such an opportunity to them. The ECP made special arrangements for women voters and had established separate polling stations for them in various areas in Gawaldi, Darora, Chukiatan and Dir Khan.

The women voters were provided a peaceful environment in which they polled their votes. Proper security arrangements were made for the by-elections.

However, sources said, that women had not polled votes in those areas where separate polling stations were not established for them.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2018