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MANSEHRA: Influential cleric and Pattan-Kiyal Ittehad candidate for Kohistan’s sole National Assembly constituency NA-12 Maulana Kareemdad on Monday rejected a recent fatwa against canvassing by women as a “political stunt” to benefit election candidates of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl.

“If a woman contender covers herself properly before going from door to door to solicit votes, the act is not repugnant to sharia,” he told Dawn.

A group of Kohistan clerics, mostly JUI-F members, decreed the other day that the election campaign by women candidates was an un-Islamic act. They also declared it was sinful to defy that fatwa.

Kohistan cleric claims decree issued to benefit JUI-F

Mr Kareemdad claimed that the JUI-F nominees were lagging far behind their competitors in Kohistan elections, so the Islamic decree came to help them out.

He said if people didn’t exercise their right to vote, their act went against sharia.

“In this modern age, women shouldn’t be stopped from polling their ballots as they make up at least half of our population,” he said.

The cleric said women members of his family participated in last elections as voters as well as polling agents of candidates.

He said sharia required voters to choose the best from among candidates as “honesty and sincerity” mattered the most in a Muslim society. The cleric said women voters shouldn’t be restricted from going to polling stations to cast their votes.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami candidate in NA-14 Dr Tariq Shirazi on Monday announced that after winning the Feb 8 election, he would address water, graveyard and other issues in the constituency.

“We’re the only party in the country that never came to power but even then, we helped the people out after the 2005 earthquake and other natural calamities through our charity organisation Al-Khidmat Foundation,” Mr Shirazi told a public meeting here.

JI contender for PK-37 Mansehra-II Jamil Ahmad Jehangiri and Shafahat Ali Khan also addressed the gathering.

Dr Shirazi said all those parties that ruled the country in the past were falsely claiming that they would change the nation’s destiny after coming to power again as they failed to deliver during their respective rules.

Mr Jehangiri said the JI fielded election candidates who strived for the people’s development.

He said his party would sweep the Feb 8 general elections in Hazara Division, including Mansehra district.

Source: Dawn