ISLAMABAD: A mock election exercise and short theatre plays were conducted as part of an Election Mela in order to reduce the number of rejected votes and to increase political participation, especially of women.
The event was organised on Tuesday by the Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (Poda) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in collaboration with The Asia Foundation (TAF) and Lok Virsa.
Speaking on the occasion, ECP Additional Director General Voter Education Nyghat Siddique said that owning to a lack of awareness and knowledge about casting votes, a large number of polls are rejected in every general election. She said there is a need for educating voters, especially women in rural areas in order to ensure a high turn-out on polling day and reduce the number of rejected votes.
Poda Executive Director Kaukab Jehan said the election festival was aimed at motivating people to exercise their right to vote and that during the event, voters were sensitised on how to cast votes according to ECP procedures. Such education programmes will strengthen women’s political participation and empowerment, she added.
TAF representative Avais Sheerani said that in developing countries like Pakistan, free, fair and transparent elections strengthen the democratic system where people can hold their representatives accountable. He said a healthy democratic society can help bring prosperity for people and safeguard their rights. It is therefore important to educate people about their responsibility and right to vote, he added.
A short theatre play, Khedaan te Votaan or games and votes, was performed at the mela, the theme for which was reclaiming the cultural heritage and raising awareness amid growing culture of playing cyber games, which is adversely affecting the traditional culture.
The play shed light on the inclusive electoral process, where neglected segments of society including women, transgender people and people with disabilities are given due importance.
One of the plays titled Jis ki Biwi Uska Vote brilliantly depicted the mindset about women’s votes and how they are denied the right to vote freely and independently, especially in the rural setting.
Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2018