By Said Alam Khan
PESHAWAR – Speakers at a round-table discussion on ‘Draft Election Bill-2017’ on Wednesday asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure more than 10 per cent women voters’ participation in each constituency in the upcoming elections. Depriving them of this right will be injustice, they added.
The utmost responsibility lies on the ECP and it must play its role actively, they added.
The discussion was organized by UNDP on the draft election bill-2017 submitted by the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms.
Prominent among the participants were provincial lawmakers, youth, media persons, academicians, lawyers and experts on electoral reforms.
It aimed at reviewing the bill and making recommendations.
Qaumi Watan Party MPA Bakht Baidar Khan said that in the upper parts of the province especially in Malakand division women were not allowed to cast votes.
Each political party, he said, was backing women participation in elections, yet there are some areas where traditionally women are barred from voting.
Maryam Bibi, a social activist, endorsing the proposed reforms suggested that the ECP should ensure maximum women voters’ participation in elections in each constituency.
Depriving them would be an injustice with them and a clear cut violation of human rights and international laws, she added.
URDO Executive Director Zaheer Khattak informed that approximately 20 million women have not been registered as voters, if we compare it with women population of the country, which is regrettable. Of them, two million women have not been listed as voters in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), he said.
Another speaker urged upon the ECP to organise campaigns particularly in KP and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) for mobilising women voters and educating people that casting vote by women was one of their fundamental rights.
Zar Ali Musazai, a social worker said that interestingly, tribal people elect members of Parliament.
But unfortunately, tribal women have no representation in the Parliament at all, which is contrary to each government’s tall claims of empowering womenfolk, he said.
He demanded of the government to take steps to ensure tribal women participation in future.
Another speaker suggested that general elections should be held in phases and media’s role should not be restricted while covering elections.
It was also proposed that electronic media should be bound not to air result of each polling station.
“There is nothing about minorities in the draft election bill-2017,” a speaker said.
Media should be given a leading role as it is one of the main stakeholders, he added.
Some of the participants said that the draft is silent about action against ROs and DROs if they were found guilty in corrupt practices in election process.
A speaker suggested that all political parties should be bound to allot five per cent tickets to youth who are about 67 per cent of the total population. While another speaker proposed that there should be a complete ban on contesting elections in more than one constituency.