PESHAWAR: As the results trickle in for the historical provincial assembly elections in the newly-merged districts, one thing has become clear, there was a substantial interest among the locals in the elections, even among the women who at least met the minimum turnout percentage.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Act 2017, “if the turnout of women voters is less than 10% of the total votes polled in a constituency, the commission may presume that the women voters have been restrained through an agreement from casting their votes and may declare, polling at one or more polling stations or election in the whole constituency, void.”
The Form-47 data and other data released by the ECP on Sunday showed that the average turnout of women voters with respect to the total votes polled in each constituency was 28.6%. Though this is lower than the national average of 46.64% during the July 2018 general elections, but it was in line with average turnouts for the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata).
The highest turnout of women was in the Parachinar, where the turnout was around 45% of all votes polled, or around 33,536 women cast their ballots out of the 82,560 registered women voters in the area. The constituency was one of the few areas where there were a large number of polling stations dedicated to women.
In fact, of the 130 polling stations in PK-109 Kurram-II, only 38 polling stations were combined while there were 46 polling stations each for men and women.
“The women of the tribal areas have expressed their political opinion by utilising their right to franchise and have shown the world that tribal women are also politically aware with clear political thoughts when compared to women in the settled districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), said Qazi Fazalullah a tribal Journalist told The Express Tribune on Sunday.
Elsewhere in the newly-merged tribal districts, in PK-100 Bajaur-I, of the 156,237 registered voters, there was a turnout of 52,298 voters or around 33.5%, This included 39,660 men who exercised their right to franchise and some 12,638 women with a female turnout of 24,2%.
In PK-101 Bajaur-II, of the 161,047 voters, there was a 29.3% turnout with 47,187 people casting their votes. Of these, 35,454 men cast their votes while 11,733 women inked their thumbs with a female turnout of 24.9%. In n PK-102 Bajaur-III, the total number of registered voters was 216,719 and 67,616 people cast votes. These included 46,654 men and 20,962 women with a female turnout of 31%.
In Mohmand tribal district, PK-103 Mohmand-I saw 40,048 of the 110,480 registered voters cast their ballot. Of these, there were 27,781 male voters and 12,267 female voters with a female turnout of 30.6%.
In PK-104 Mohmand-II, the total number of registered voters is 170,022. Of these, on 48,056 people cast their votes including 35,869 men and 12,187 women with a female turnout percentage of 25.4%.
The three constituencies of the Khyber tribal districts, including PK-105-Khyber-I, there were as many as 167,484 registered voters of which 45,897 cast their votes. These included 30,495 men and 15,402 women with a female turnout of 33.6%. In the PK-106-Khyber-II, as many as 148,470 people are registered as voters. Of these, 34,800 cast their votes, including 26,320 men and 8,480 women with a female turnout of 24.4%.
For PK-107 Khyber-III, there are a total of 216,133 people registered to vote. Of these, 37,795 cast their ballots including 31,297 men and 6,498 women with a female turnout of 17.2%. This was among the lowest female turnouts in the ex-Fata even though this constituency had the highest number of polling stations dedicated for women with 55.
In the Kurram tribal district, on PK-108 Kurram-I, there were a total of 172,897 registered voters of which 45,504 people cast their vote. Of these, 29,591 were men and 15,913 were women with a women turnout of 35%.
In PK-109 Kurram-II, of the 187,844 registered voters, only 75,308 came to the polling stations to cast their ballot. This included 41,772 men and 33,536 women with a total women turnout of 44.5%.
In Orakzai, PK-110 has a total of 196,436 registered voters. Of these, 47,306 voted including 30,769 men and 16,537 women with a women turnout of 35%. Even in the militancy-hit North Waziristan PK-111 NW-I, women came out to vote in large numbers. Of the 141,053 registered voters, 37,043 cast their ballots, including 30,799 men and 6,244 women with a female turnout of 16.9%.
In PK-112 NW-II, of the 179,124 registered voters, 36,379 cast their ballots, including 31,910 men and 4,470 women with a female turnout of 12.29% — the lowest turnout ratio for women in the 16 constituencies.
In South Waziristan, PK-113 SW-I, of the 218,835 registered voters, only 35,318 came out to vote, including 24,955 men. But a whopping 10,363 women also came out to vote with a turnout of 29.34%. In PK-114 SW-II, there are a total of 167,980 people registered to vote. Of these, 38,044 polled their votes including 30,428 men and 7,616 women with a turnout of 20%.
In the Frontier Regions, PK-115, of the 191, 062 people registered to vote, only 46, 287 cast their votes, including 31, 400 men and 15780 women with a turnout of 34%.
Female politicians hail historic vote
With a large number of women turning out to vote in Saturday’s elections, social worker and Swabi-based politician Meraj Hamayun Khan told The Express Tribune over the phone that results from the newly-merged areas were heartening.
She went on to explain that there were two reasons to be extremely hopeful for women in the area. The first was the largely peaceful conduct and conclusion of the elections.
“But more importantly for me, as a woman political leader and activist, it was the turnout of women in all the constituencies,” she said adding that before the elections, she had been apprehensive that elections may be cancelled in several places due to the poor turnout of women voters but everyone got a pleasant surprise.
“The tribal Pakhtun women broke the myth spread by others that they are politically immature or are either unaware or simply disinterested in elections,” Meraj said, adding that “women of the tribal areas had created history with their turnout and that she finally had hope of greater women participation from these areas in the future.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2019.