Women in Dir, Kohistan, and North and South Waziristan made history on Wednesday when they cast their votes for the first time.

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Babar Yaqoob confirmed that women in Dir had cast their votes in the General Election for the first time in Pakistan's history.

According to BBC Urdu, women turnout was high at Lower Dir's Government Higher Secondary School Rabaat.

Meanwhile, Express Tribune's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bureau Chief Iftikhar Firdous tweeted a photo of women in Mohmand tribal district's Bayzai sub-division, some 5 kilometres from the Afghan border, going to vote for the first time.

North Waziristan Government Administrator Mohammad Ayaz Khan told AP that women had voted in the tribal region for the first time. "We made history today. It is the first time that women have come out of their homes to cast their vote," he said.

Local administration in South Waziristan also confirmed that female voter turnout is "extremely healthy", and that no complaints had been received from anywhere.

A woman casts her vote in Badin. ─ Photo courtesy Hanif Samoon
A woman casts her vote in Badin. ─ Photo courtesy Hanif Samoon

Other areas that saw an unprecedented turnout of women voters included Badin and Mithi, where a large number of women voters were spotted casting their votes.

However, DawnNewsTV reported that women's turnout in Upper and Lower Dir, Bajaur, Khyber Division, Shangla, Mohmand, Charsadda and Peshawar's suburban areas is nearly non-existent.

Although political parties, particularly religious parties, had said during their election campaigns that women should be allowed to vote, women in some parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been forbidden to vote by local jirgas, and at certain polling stations in various constituencies.

In Peshawar, despite a fair turnout of female voters reported, low turnout of women was apparent in the Haji Banda, Acheni Bala and Hajiabad areas.

Men also entered a women's polling station in Peshawar and attempted to shut it down, DawnNewsTV reported.

Bars on women voters were reported in Swabi district's Adina area, Buner's Gulbandi, Balo Khan, Narbatol and Dokada areas.

The ECP asked mosques in Buner to announce on their loudspeakers that women should go cast their votes.

Although it initially appeared as though women would not vote in Kohistan, the situation changed around midday, with women voting in Lower Kohistan in the NA-11 and PK-26 areas, and more expected to come out of their homes.

Women 'stopped from voting' in parts of KP, Punjab

Extensive reports were received about women being prevented from voting in various areas of KP and Punjab.

According to the KP Women's Commission, 15 complaints have been received regarding the barring of women from polling stations in different parts of the province.

Women's Commission Spokesperson Amina Waheed Durrani said that the complaints have been forwarded to the Home Department and Chief Minister's Secretariat for further verification.

In Shangla, women were not permitted to vote at polling stations where men were also voting. Women placed votes at only seven polling stations of the total 254 in the area. Staff in 95 per cent of the polling stations set up for women were left waiting for the 162,049 women voters in Shangla to show up.

In Swabi, although a jirga placed a ban on women voting, police and army officials insisted on women voting and ensured they were brought out of their homes to vote.

The ECP, meanwhile, took notice of reports that women were prevented from voting in Swabi and Malakand. The ECP Monitoring Cell contacted the Gender Desk's deputy commissioner in Swabi in this regard.

The ECP secretary also confirmed that complaints had been received regarding restrictions on women voters in Nowshehra's PK-65 area.

In Punjab, women were prevented from voting in Kot Momin, Mandi Bahauddin, Chiniot and Chakwal.

Despite repeated calls from local mosques requesting women voters in Mandi Bahauddin (NA-86, PP-67) no women voters showed up at polling stations to cast their votes in the Ghoga Nawali area.

In Chakwal's Dharnal area, women voters were sent back home, with men at polling stations claiming it is un-Islamic for women to cast votes, BBC Urdu reported.

No women voted in Kot Momin or Chiniot's Chak 175 areas either.

The ECP had earlier said that turnout of less than 10 per cent of women voters at any polling station across the country would lead to the results from those polling stations being considered null and void.

Voting is segregated throughout the country with even single polling stations divided between men and women, including separate election officials.

One of the reasons behind this is to encourage more women to come out and vote, particularly in more conservative parts of the country.


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