By: Sajjad Q Ashraf
This refers to your editorial ‘Women voters’ (Oct 1). Our political parties have turned down the proposal of the Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct re-polling at polling stations where less than 10 percent women votes are polled. Though almost all countries of the world, with the exception of a few, allow women to vote, many countries have a traditionally low turnout of women voters because of cultural and social conventions. There are over 60,000 polling stations across the country and the condition of re-polling in the case of less than 10 percent women votes will make the process of election a lengthy and cumbersome one. The major concern for the ECP should be the number of votes polled against the total registered votes. The turnout in the last six general elections, held since 1988, was never above 45.5 percent of the registered votes. It may be mentioned here that the total registered votes do not represent the accurate number of eligible voters in the country as there is a possibility that a fairly large number of people may not have registered.
It would be interesting to note that as per the data submitted before the apex court by Nadra, out of the 81 million registered voters in the last elections, some 26 million voters were either without NIC or had a duplicate or invalid NIC. So it wouldn’t be wrong to say that all past elected governments did not represent majority as the majority did not cast their votes. The major concern, therefore, should be to encourage the majority to express its opinion through ballot in the coming elections so that the government formed after elections is a true representative of the people of Pakistan. Instead of making 10 percent women votes mandatory at every polling station, it would be fitting if a law regarding voting of at least 51 percent votes in every constituency was made. It will increase the participation of womenfolk in the election process in the long run.