KHAR: Political and religious parties and candidates for two National Assembly constituencies in Bajaur Agency, NA-43 and NA-44, have agreed to encourage local women to cast vote on May 11.The agreement came during a meeting here on Wednesday.
Jamaat-i-Islami, Fata chief Sahibzada Haroonur Rasheed, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader and candidate for NA-44 Shahabuddin Khan, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl general secretary Maulana Abdur Rasheed, Awami National Party’s Gul Afzal Khan and Pakistan People’s Party’s Akhunzada Chattan addressed the meeting.
Shahabuddin Khan and Akhunzada Chattan told participants that women made half of the country’s population and had always played a crucial role in national development and progress but were denied basic rights by and large.
“Like men, women, too, are the equal citizens of the country. They have the right to cast vote in favour of the candidates whom they consider the best for the welfare of the region,” said Shahabuddin Khan.
Akhunzada Chattan said women’s vote for the region was crucial.
“In the past, local women were not allowed to cast vote in line with tribal traditions but now, the situation has changed and there is a need that we should let our women exercise their franchise without let or hindrance,” he said.
The former MNA said participation of tribal women in the electoral process was vital not only for the area development but also for the strengthening of democracy in the country and improvement of the country’s international image tarnished by militancy.
Some participants, including representatives of religious parties, objected to the women’s right to vote, saying first tribal tradition doesn’t allow women to cast vote and second the law and order situation is delicate and if women go to polling stations, it could create problems.
After a lengthy discussion, participants unanimously decided that women would be allowed to cast vote in both constituencies, NA-43 and NA-44, on May 11 and that political parties and candidates would encourage women to exercise their franchise.
They also urged the local political administration and the Election Commission of Pakistan to establish separate polling stations for women in the two constituencies and provide them with proper security.