By Shahid Hussain Yousafzai
TIMERGARA: Only eight of the 26,949 female voters turned up to cast their votes in the local government by-elections for 18 seats held Sunday in the Lower Dir district.
And intriguingly, two female candidates in the union council Toormang-1 also didn’t vote, not even for themselves.
The past tradition of women’s disenfranchisement in this conservative area thus continued.
Sources said like the previous elections, a verbal agreement had been struck among the local leaders of political parties which barred women from casting their votes in by-election.
Election Officer Inayatur Rahman told journalists that foolproof security measures had been made at the polling stations, adding that proper environment was provided to the women voters.
He said a separate polling station was set up for women at the Government Girls Primary School in Osakai, but not a single woman turned up to cast her vote.
It is worth mentioning here that the Election Commission of Pakistan had last year withheld the notification of the result of the by-polls for the provincial assembly constituency, PK-95 Lower Dir, on the plea that women voters were barred from casting votes. The by-election was won by Jamaat-i-Islami candidate Aizazul Mulk Afkari, but he cannot take oath until the notification of the result by the Election Commission. The matter is now sub-judice
A total of eight candidates were in the run for the tehsil council seat at Kotigram union council. Four candidates, including a father and a son, were running for the tehsil council seat in Sultankhel ward. Besides, three candidates contested for the tehsil council seat in Toormang-1 ward.
According to unofficial results, Malik Aftab of the Awami National Party won the tehsil council seat at Toormang-1 ward by securing 1,284 votes against Malik Ijaz Khan of the Jamaat-i-Islami who polled 1,088 votes.
Jan Pari won the women councillor seat at village council Chupraqa Samarbagh by securing 33 out of the 36 votes.