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Kohistanis unlikely to allow women vote in by-poll

MANSEHRA: Although Election Commission of Pakistan has set up separate polling booths for women to cast their votes in Kohistan by-election, yet it seems that people in most areas of the constituency will follow their tradition of not allowing womenfolk to take part in the balloting.

“We have established polling booths for women voters and are optimistic that they would come out to exercise their right of vote,” Deen Mohammad, the assistant election commissioner of Kohistan, told journalists on Tuesday.

He said that they had also asked the candidates to remove hurdles from their way and facilitate women to cast votes in the by-election to be held on Nov 24.

Kohistan is a conservative and backward district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. During the previous elections including the general polls held in 2008, people of district didn`t allow women to cast their votes.

Even the candidates for a national and three provincial assembly seats of district always opposed casting of votes by women. “This time too contenders are unwilling to allow women to cast votes in the by-election,” sources said.

The by-election will be held in PK-61 constituency for the provincial assembly seat, which fell vacant after the demise of MPA Maulana Obaidullah.

“People of Kohistan are against women taking part in polling and they would not allow their women to come to the polling booths and cast their votes,” said Sarfaraz Khan, a resident of the constituency.

He said that only those women, who were relatives and family members of the candidates, would go to the polling booths in urban areas of the constituency.

Eleven contenders, from almost all mainstream parties, are in the run for by-election. A total of 84,675 voters, including 18,801 women, are registered in the constituency.

Deen Mohammad said that the candidates had assured him during a meeting that they would work to bring out the women on the polling day.

“I know that in the past women were not allowed to exercise their right of vote but this time situation will be different completely,” he said.
Source: Dawn
Date:11/16/2011

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