A proposal to make a minimum turnout of 10% of women voters mandatory at every polling station seems to have hit snags before making it to parliament – with political parties rejecting the initiative.
Leaders of the political parties on Thursday appeared to have rejected outright the proposal tabled by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to encourage the participation of women in the upcoming general elections.
The ECP had prepared a draft legislation calling on parliament to enact a law cancelling the results of any polling station where less than 10% of the total number of registered women participated in voting. After the cancellation of the results, re-polling could be organised, the draft further suggested.
The ECP had forwarded the draft to the ministry of law and justice to place in parliament.
The commission, however, received a rather cold response over the proposal during a consultation meeting with leaders of the mainstream political parties on Thursday.
The political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and others, raised objections over the proposal, saying it was not practical.
Party leaders were of the view that the initiative would face technical and social hindrances. They said that, in some areas, due to local customs and long distances between peoples’ houses and polling stations, the compulsory 10% women votes could not be achieved.
Sources privy to the meeting told The Express Tribune that some parties fear that the turn out in militancy-hit areas might not cross even 20%, making the 10% women votes an impossible option.
Meanwhile, political parties also expressed reservations over the lingering issue of giving overseas Pakistanis the right to vote from the countries they live in.
“Unless a credible mechanism is developed, it would open up gates for rigging. There is a need to have some foolproof mechanism to ensure that these votes are not misused,” said, Pakistan Peoples Party-Sherpao’s Anisa Zaib Kahirkheli during the meeting.
Some parties, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, are strong advocates of giving overseas Pakistanis the right of vote. The commission, however, told participants that, until a mechanism is devised, overseas Pakistanis will only be able to vote if they are in Pakistan at the time of elections.
There are 3.7 million overseas Pakistanis registered on the electoral rolls, but they would not be able to cast their votes in the forthcoming general elections, unless they ensure their physical presence in the constituency they are registered in.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2012.
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