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EC warns of action over women disenfranchisement

EC warns of action over women disenfranchisement

PESHAWAR: The Election Commission of Pakistan has warned of a punitive action after receiving a report about alleged agreements by elders and candidates in several constituencies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for disenfranchising women in the July 25 general elections.
As per the report, issued by the Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability, a non-government organization working on election monitoring, elders and candidates are going to ban women voting at Sago Bair, Koz Jalkot, Koop Nala, Kail, Baryal, DC Colony and Kandokor areas in NA-11 Kohistan. The reasons are seasonal migration and long distance from the polling stations.

Similarly, the reports claimed that elders and candidates in NA-12 in Batagram are also going to strike agreements in Chapargram, Shenglai Payeen, Gagbori, Perarhi, Ajmir Kuz Poo, Pagora and Jetol Bazaar and Rojmera areas of the constituency.

The cultural barriers, long distance from polling stations and fears of violence in the election have been cited as the reasons for the ban.

The report claimed women at Dheri area in NA-20 Mardan would be barred from exercising the right to vote as the elders cited cultural barrier as the reason for restraining women from voting. Dheri area is situated in Mardan city from where the Awami National Party former Chief Minister Haider Khan Hoti and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf former education minister Muhammad Atif Khan are contesting.

The report pointed out that women are to be barred from the election for cultural barriers in Katikhel area of NA-26 Nowshera.

“The women have been barred from election in Kol Kathmir, Bhettani Polkasht, Tori Khel, Bega Tajzai areas in NA-36 Lakki Marwat due to an agreement among local influential persons and restrictions [placed] by the candidates,” the report said, adding women were also being stopped from taking part in voting at Asghar Kandoro area in NA-40 Bajaur tribal district due to cultural barriers.

Similarly, it said, women are to be deprived of the right to vote at Aran-II, Narai Tangi, Damadola-IV, Chajhu Badan, Ghanam Shah, Inam Khwaro Chengai, Khararai, Touheedabad, Dabar, Tundai, Chengai, Bangbera Banda, Barmula Said and Patang Dherai areas of NA-41 Bajaur tribal district due to cultural barriers.

The report said women are being deprived of the right to vote at Shakas area in NA-43 Khyber tribal district.

After receiving the report, the Election Commission of Pakistan warned of a strict action against the elders and candidates who were going to make agreements for the disenfranchisement of women in the July 25 general elections.

The Provincial Election Commissioner, Pir Maqbool Ahmad, through an official communiqué, warned the elders and candidates of the political parties of a strict punishment under the Election Act 2017 if they were found involved making agreements for disenfranchising women.

The practice of agreement and restraining women form votes, he said, is punishable up to three years imprisonment or fine of Rs100, 000 or both. The commissioner asked the district returning officers and returning officers to take steps for foiling such agreements. He directed the relevant deputy commissioners of the areas, who are serving as district monitoring officers, to check the illegal and unlawful practice.

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