PESHAWER: Women were allowed to cast their votes in Hali Banda area of Achini on the outskirts of Peshawar on Wednesday after the Election Commission of Pakistan took notice of locals barring female voters in NA-29 and PK-71 from exercising their right to votes.
A local councilor told The Express Tribune that the women have never been allowed to participate in the electoral process in the village Haji Banda. He added that the elders reached an agreement with contestants and their representatives on the matter. “Women voting is against the local tradition and Pakthun culture,” he claimed.
“I don’t remember women polling in this village where male and female polling stations have been established and there are 875 registered votes,” he said.
Commission on the Status of Women Director programme Amina Durrani, heading a complaint cell to check the women participation in the general elections 2018, said that she had been informed about the village and she was going to personally visit the polling station.
“We have received complaints from Nowshera, Dir Lower and Haji Banda in Peshawar and more complaints are coming,” he added, saying that she would confirm the ban once she was there.
One of the village elders, on the condition of anonymity, said that there was no ban, but women themselves were not interested in voting as per the local culture.
The Commission said that they have received 15 complaints of instances, in which women were not allowed to vote. The complaints have been received from Ahmad Khel, Haji Banda and Badhaber as well as Hazar Khwani villages on the outskirts of Peshawar.
Earlier our local observers reported that the local elders, contesting parties in UC Adeena (PK47) and neighboring areas were not allowing women voters to go to polling stations and exercise their right to vote, Tariq Hayat who is a member of GDWD said.
In order to confirm the news , “I have personally visited few women polling stations of the localities and found it empty,” Hayat added.
“So we sat with the local elders informed them categorically that at least 10% women voting is mandatory, otherwise the results may be declared null and void by the Election Commission of Pakistan.”
On this, They assured to resume the polling process for women, however still intervention from designated authorities of Swabi is urgently needed, Hayat said.
In a rare move, women in the tribal district of Mohmand proceeded on foot to cast their votes.
Women were not allowed to vote in Banda Sheikh Ismail in Nowshera while in village Trakha Nowshera female voters used their right of franchise for the first time.
Meanwhile, only two votes were polled at three female polling stations in Swabi’s NA19 and PK-47. A local SHO went to talk to the elders, who informed him that they have not barred women from casting votes, however, they themselves decided against voting in accordance with the area’s culture.
A formal complaint has been registered and details were forwarded to the ECP.
Meanwhile, women used their right in only eight polling stations in Shanghla.