TIMERGARA/UPPER DIR: Social activists and losing candidates from Lower and Upper Dir on Monday condemned the election commission for failing to ensure women enfranchisement during the recently held local government by-elections on tehsil and village council seats in the two districts.
According to electoral lists, the number of women voters in Shahikhel Talash tehsil council ward was 6,286 but none of the registered women voters exercised their right to vote.
The seat was won by Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) backed candidate Gul Hakim Khan who got 1,283 votes. Similarly, in Samarbagh tehsil council ward, there were 7,042 registered women voters but none of them polled their vote. The seat was won by JI candidate Akhunzada Azizur Rehman who bagged 2,101 votes out of the total 17,321 registered voters.
Social workers claimed that unwritten pacts had been formed between the different parties which prevented the women from casting their votes. The urged the ECP to look into this matter and ensure that women are not overlooked in the future.
However, officials disregarded these claims and said that no one stopped the women from casting their votes and that different polling stations had been set up for them but none of the women turned up.
PPP, PML-N, PTI, ANP and JUI-F candidates for tehsil council Shahikhel Talash ward blamed JI candidates for banning women from voting, and demanded of the ECP to declare the election null and void and also take notice of a JI minister’s involvement in rigging the by-election.
In Upper Dir, over 6,000 registered women voters in Darora, Chukiatan and Brawal union councils did not use their right to vote.
According to ECP, 6,813 women voters were registered in the Darora union council, but not a single vote was polled. The same situation was witnessed in Chukiatan and Brawal village councils where women were also kept deprived of casting vote.
Sources said all the political parties in Darora union council had reached a verbal agreement a day before the poling day that women won’t be allowed to cast vote. According to local residents and activists the district election commission office also ignored women voters by not setting up a single women polling station and booth in Darora UC.
District election commissioner Amjad Ali also said that seperate polling stations had not been established for women in Darora UC. He said the people of the constituency were not interested in women casting vote.