- Political parties alloting tickets to women for constituencies where they have never won in polls
PESHAWAR: Women rights activists have voiced concerns over the failure of some political and religious parties in allotment of at least five per cent of tickets for general seats to women for the upcoming polls and asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to clarify whether the political parties which had been allotted the election symbols fulfilled this requirement or not.
Speaking at a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Saturday, Aurat Foundation Resident Director Shabina Ayaz said that the ECP had asked all the political parties to allot at least five per cent of tickets for the general seats to women in order to get electoral symbols.
However, as per the data of election commission, the Pakistan Muslim League Eagle group had allotted 4.9 per cent of general seat tickets to women candidates, followed by Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek that allotted 4 per cent tickets to women, while the Qaumi Watan Party allotted only 3.2 per cent of general seat ticket to women candidates. She was astonished that Tehreek-e-Labbaik Islam had allotted zero per cent general seat tickets to women.
Shabina regretted that despite the violation of ECP’s code of conduct, the commission had allotted electoral symbols to these parties and asked for an explanation on this.
Similarly, she said that the political parties had fielded women candidates in those constituencies wherein the parties didn’t get success in the past two general elections, putting the women voters in a challenging situation.
Flanked by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on Status of Women Chairman (KPCSW) Neelum Toru, women rights activist Saima Munir and Amina Durrani and others, Shabina regretted that their demand of ensuring allotment of at least 10 per cent general seat tickets to women with a condition to field women candidates in those constituencies wherein the political parties would become victorious in the elections was not accepted.
On the occasion, she demanded the result of the count (Form-45) and the ballot paper count (Form-46) should be made public on the evening of the elections day. She further called for a separate count of male and female voters.
The women rights activist also urged the ECP to take pre-emptive measures to prevent incidents of harassment of women and make all possible arrangements to prevent inconvenience to female voters on the polling day.
Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Neelum Toru informed that the provincial women commission and Aurat Foundation had entered into an agreement to support women’s participation in four districts of the province, including Peshawar, Kohat, Swabi and Bannu.
WOMEN CANDIDATES FIELDED IN CONSTITUENCIES WHERE PARTIES LOST IN PAST:
All the major political parties have fielded their female candidates on constituencies where they have zero chance of securing victory in the upcoming polls. In a majority of constituencies where political parties have fielded their candidates, no election has been won by these parties since last three general elections, and in some cases since 1977.
Despite efforts for women empowerment and their participation in the electoral process, the women in KP still face difficulties to actively participate in the parliamentary politics due to political parties’ discrimination.
Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), one of the main contenders in the upcoming general elections, has fielded 95 candidates for KP Assembly seats out of which only one is female. It fielded Farzana Rehan from PK-41 Haripur constituency from where no religious political party ever secured a victory. The alliance has not issued even a single ticket to a female candidate for any National Assembly seat.
Similarly, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which ruled the province for five years, issued only five KP Assembly seats to women in which only one seat, PK-42 Haripur, was won by the party in the previous general elections.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has fielded women candidates at potential constituencies where the party is expected to show a close contest. It has allocated three NA seats and four provincial assembly seats to female workers.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has issued more NA tickets to women than any other political party in percentage points from KP.
The Awami National Party (ANP) has also awarded two NA and five provincial assembly tickets to female candidates from those constituencies where the party has neither won nor contested from a very long time.
Shahwana Shah, who runs an organisation ‘Da Hawa Lor’ for women empowerment, said that practically all the political parties are not gender-sensitive. “Look at their manifestos. There is nothing for women rights and empowerment. These parties are only giving positions to women and not empowering women in true sense,” she remarked
When asked about the political parties not meeting the legal requirement of allocating five per cent seats to women, KP Election Commission of Pakistan PRO Sohail told Pakistan Today that they are waiting for the response of the chief election commissioner in this regard.
By Sajjad Ali