A number of complaints were received by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding the low participation of women, who make up around 2.3 million of the total voters, in the October 14 by-polls.
According to media reports, women failed to show up at the polling station number 234 in Talagang’s NA-65 to cast vote. 300 women are registered at the NA-65 constituency’s polling station number 234. The by-election in the Chakwal constituency is likely to be declared null and void as not a single woman exercised the right in four polling stations, reports said.
Meanwhile, the ECP said it had received 24 complaints till the time voting ended. 19 complaints were from Punjab and two from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. No complaints were received from Balochistan and Sindh. Three complaints were received from overseas Pakistanis. Several of these complaints were regarding the low voter turnout of women.
COMPLAINTS IN KP:
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, where by-elections were held on one National Assembly seat and nine KP Assembly seats, reportedly faced the low women turnout issue.
By-elections in Nowshera saw a low turnout of female voters in PK 61 and PK 64 as women were barred from voting in various polling stations. Women were prohibited from voting at Government primary school Zarra Miyana polling station, media reports said. The ECP later confirmed that there was a complaint from PK-61 regarding the same issue.
According to the election body’s KP spokesperson Sohail Ahmed, the commission has taken notice of the issue and sought details from District Returning Officer Jahanzaib Khan.
“Our district returning officer and other officials have reached the area and are holding a jirga with the elders,” Ahmed said, adding that the issue would be resolved soon.
Later on, the District Returning Officer (DRO) said that the issue regarding women not being allowed to vote has been resolved.
Officials of district administration and the ECP held a jirga with local elders who gave the assurance that women will cast their vote.
“The elders assured that after Zuhr namaz, women will go to polling stations to vote,” said the DRO.
When asked who stopped the women, the DRO said that it has been the custom in the area. “In the 2013 and 2018 general elections, women did not vote,” he said, adding that he hoped they would this time.
The ECP has formed a special gender compliance desk in all provinces and capital.