Objective achieved: Women disperse after ECP agrees to recount votes in NA-37

Female protesters had been demonstrating against alleged rigging since May 14.

Our Correspondent May 26, 2013
Tribal elders later convinced women to just settle for recounting of votes instead of re-polling, following which the protesters dispersed peacefully. PHOTO: AFP

PARACHINAR:


The women of Kurram Agency on Sunday finally succeeded in convincing authorities to order a recount in 10 polling stations of the NA-37 constituency.


On May 14, around 150 women convened at Shaheed Park in front of the office of the agency’s political agent to protest in response to reports that claimed polls had been rigged and women had been barred from casting their ballots on Election Day. But far from losing its momentum, the demonstration attracted more and more supporters with each passing day.



By the time the demonstration finally came to an end, the gathering had swelled to over a thousand with protesters who had come in from Parachinar and adjoining villages.

The women accused winning candidate Sajid Hussain Tori and political administration officials of rigging, saying they would not accept the results until a recount took place and females were allowed to vote. They alleged most women casting votes in favour of Air Marshal (Retd) Qaiser Hussain Shah, an independent candidate from NA-37, were stopped by Tori’s men.

In a meeting with a delegation of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the women were assured recounting of votes would take place in 10 polling stations of the constituency where the rigging reportedly took place.

Talking to journalists, the women said they would not stop protesting till recounting takes place and women are allowed to vote. Independent candidate Qaiser Hussain Shah also said the ECP had promised during negotiations that along with a recount in the constituency, women would also be enabled to cast their ballot.

Tribal elders later convinced women to just settle for recounting of votes instead of re-polling, following which the protesters dispersed peacefully.



“This is by no means a small feat for women in a conservative society like the Federally Administered Tribal Areas,” said Shah, while lauding the women for their determination to speak up for their rights.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2013.

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