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Pukhtoon women come out to vote in large numbers

Unlike the popular perception, women from the Pakhtoon community in Karachi West were not barred from voting and were seen exercising their right with full vigour in Pathan Colony. However, those who were unable to cast their vote were disgruntled with the voting process after they learnt they were either not enrolled in the voter’s list or their polling station was situated quite far from their vicinity.

Polling Station number 142, located in the National Assembly constituency NA-241 and Provincial Assembly constituency PS-93, expected a massive turn-out of Pakhtoon women, who were seen entering the station in groups of three and four since 8:00 a.m. From a total of 928 registered women voters in the constituency, some 150 women had already cast their votes in less than four hours.

“We are expecting a 15 per cent increase in women voters this time and it is really surprising. At this rate, I am sure till 5.00 p.m., at least 500 out of the 928 voters will turn up,” Abbas Rizvi, the Presiding officer at polling station 142 told The News. The turn-out of female voters in the area in the 2002 elections was 35 per cent.

Some aggravated women, however, complained of the uncooperative behaviour of the officers at the polling station who were unable to explain why the women were ineligible to vote. “I have been waiting here for the past two-and-a-half hours and I am being told I can’t vote because I did not register myself as a voter. Isn’t my NIC enough to prove that I am an eligible voter? Why didn’t officials from the Election Commission inform us about this earlier?” lamented a 43-year-old Malghalara Bibi who refused to go home till she cast her vote. She did not reveal who she wished to vote for, however. “My vote will remain a secret between me and my God and I will not go until they permit me to vote,” she insisted. It was later learnt that the officer permitted her to vote.

Although the Awami National Party (ANP) remains popular in the area, some staunch supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) were also seen in the area. “I know that Nawaz Sharif is popular in Punjab and will do nothing for Sindh, but no leader has really met our expectations so the whole activity is to vote for the person you like — not because you expect him to provide electricity and water. I have never voted before, but this year I decided to do so for my conscience,” said 48-year-old Samina, also a member of the Pakhtoon community.

Long queues of female voters were also seen at Aazmabad Government College, a polling station in the constituency NA-240 and PS-92, where women from Pak Colony, Hasrat Mohani Colony and the neighbouring areas of Manghopir Road came to cast their vote. The presiding officer complained of indiscipline during rush hour (from 1.00 p.m. to 3.00 p.m.) and admitted that the polling station was not expecting so many female voters.

Source: The News
Date:2/19/2008

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