Conservative areas see women vote for first time

Published July 26, 2018
WOMEN stand in a queue to cast their vote in Panjgur on Wednesday. National Party president Hasil Bizenjo shared this photo on Twitter and said: “Our brave sisters from Panjgur have come out in great numbers to vote, despite repeated terrorist threats.”
WOMEN stand in a queue to cast their vote in Panjgur on Wednesday. National Party president Hasil Bizenjo shared this photo on Twitter and said: “Our brave sisters from Panjgur have come out in great numbers to vote, despite repeated terrorist threats.”

PESHAWAR/SAHIWAL: In a historic first, women in some conservative parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab came out of their homes to cast their votes in the general election on Wednesday as candidates sought to fulfil the legal requirement of minimum 10 per cent women’s turnout to validate their result.

In Balochistan, too, women came out in large numbers to vote despite terror attacks and repeated threats.

Women in tribal areas and other conservative areas had been barred from voting in the past general elections, as the practice of keeping women from voting is a norm under verbal and written agreements bet­ween candidates and family elders in such areas.

However, for the first time in the country’s electoral history, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) annulled the result of Dir Lower (PK-95) by-polls in 2015 after finding that none of the registered women voters had cast votes.

The Elections Act requires the ECP to declare an election null and void if women’s turnout in a constituency is less than 10pc of its total polled votes.

On Wednesday, candidates and local administration on ECP directives ensured at least 10pc turnout of women voters in the districts notorious for barring women from voting. The measures encouraged women voters not only in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Dir Lower but also in a village of Punjab’s Sahiwal district to visit their respective polling stations and cast their vote.

“Since the 1990s we had not seen women coming out in large numbers,” said Zahid, a local journalist in Dir.

“I voted for the first time. My mother, aunt and cousins also went out today to vote,” said a cheerful Shafi Naz from Dir Lower while speaking to Dawn. She wanted to go to vote during the previous elections also, but the family elders did not like women to leave their homes. Surprisingly, she said, nobody objected to their going out to vote. However, she was not aware of the fact that Election Act required 10pc women vote to acknowledge result of a constituency.

In North Waziristan, Bajaur and other far-flung parts of Mohmand tribal agency also saw a rise in female voters’ turnout despite lack of facilities and slow polling process.

Considering past voting trends in the conservative parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ECP had issued directives to district returning officers and deputy commissioners to ensure women’s voting in six districts namely Swat, Dir Lower, Dir Upper, Shangla, Swabi and Batagram.

Punjab

Women of Jahan Khan Village (111/9-L) in the National Assembly constituency of Sahiwal (NA-147) also created history by voting for the first time in any general election for which the administration, civil society organisations and media could be credited.

There are 4,022 registered voters in the village and out of them 1,822 are women.

The village is divided among Jahan Khan, Shadookay and Kubaykay localities out of which Jahan Khan is the most populated. The Joiya biradri dominates the village.

Deputy commissioner Mohammad Zaman Wattoo told Dawn that a special session had been arranged to train women to vote by the polling staff. He said if the media had not highlighted lack of women’s participation in elections, this year too they would not have voted in the village.

District Election Commissioner Rana Ghaffar said the election commission had categorically told village elders and candidates that in case there was less than 10pc turnout of women, the ECP would declare election results null and void.

Balochistan

Undeterred by the terror attacks targeting election activities, women voters in Balochistan, too, came out of their homes to cast votes.

“Our brave sisters from Panjgur have come out in great numbers to vote, despite threats repeated terrorist threats,” National Party chief Hasil Bizanjo stated in a tweet to appreciate their courage.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2018

Opinion

Climate & youth

Climate & youth

Disillusionment and anxiety are on the rise among youth as they confront the diminishing prospects of a better tomorrow.
Our exclusivity syndrome
Updated 17 Oct 2021

Our exclusivity syndrome

Pakistan needs at least a minimum level of inclusivity that can keep alive democratic values.
Shafqat Kakakhel
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Shafqat Kakakhel

COP26 has to achieve consensus on several issues.

Editorial

Carnage in Kandahar
Updated 17 Oct 2021

Carnage in Kandahar

Pakistan’s anti-extremism policy is in many ways half-baked and inconsistent.
17 Oct 2021

Sanctity of contracts

PAKISTAN is facing yet another international dispute before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment...
17 Oct 2021

New sports policy

THIS week, the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee chief Haroon Malik was in Zurich to hold ...
Diminishing freedom
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Diminishing freedom

DESPITE the serious reservations of digital rights activists and tech companies, the federal government has...
16 Oct 2021

Dirty politics

IN her outburst against Prime Minister Imran Khan this week, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz may not have taken names but...
16 Oct 2021

Decreasing emissions

THE announcement by SAPM on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam that carbon emissions in the country came down by 9pc...