Nowshera, Lakki Marwat: Re-polling in stations with women vote bar

PHC orders poll body to conduct fresh voting in parts of NA-5 and NA-27.

Noorwali Shah August 27, 2013
PHC orders poll body to conduct fresh voting in parts of NA-5 and NA-27. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL


The Peshawar High Court on Monday ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold re-elections on polling stations of NA-5 Nowshera and NA-27 Lakki Marwat, where women were barred from voting on August 22 by-elections.

The court has also ordered the ECP to withhold the notification of results from these constituencies till re-polling is completed.

The court has further asked the government to table a bill in parliament to prevent similar incidents in the future and make necessary amendments to the People’s Representation Act 1976 to ensure maximum participation of women in elections.

A two-member special bench, comprising Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Malik Manzoor Hussain in its verdict ordered the ECP to conduct an inquiry and also run an awareness campaign before re-elections so that women can fully participate in the polls.

The chief justice in his verdict also stated that according to results of some polling stations, minimum female participation was 1.42% while maximum was 3%, which was unacceptable.

“The government shall table a bill in the parliament and debate upon the issue. In future, not a single female should be prevented from using her constitutional right in the general elections,” the judgment said.

The chief justice remarked that barring women from voting was a disgrace for a country which has had a female prime minister for two terms, and a speaker of the National Assembly in the last government.

“When there is a local government election in the country, politicians provide transportation and bring women from their houses, but when it comes to general election, women are prevented from their basic rights,” the PHC chief justice said in his remarks.

He added that when men do not object over the inclusion of women in list of Zakat and Usher recipients and the Benazir Income Support Programme, why did they have reservations over the inclusion of women in the voters list.

While presenting statistical data, Provincial Election Commissioner Sono Khan Baloch, said that there were 236 polling stations in NA-5 Nowshera, of which 70 were exclusively for women, 160 both for men and women, while six were exclusively for men.

He said that of the 140,469 registered voters, 29,961 were female, adding that 14% turnout was recorded on the day, as 20,091 voters cast their ballots, of which male voter turnout was 33%.

According to Baloch, there were 331,104 registered voters in NA-27 Lakki Marwat, of which 187,311 were male and 145,793 female. He said, 124,679 votes were polled, of which 88,537 were male, 36,142 were female, adding that male turnout was 47.22% while female turnout was 25.13%. He further stated that there were 20 polling stations where women did not vote, with 22.1% less than male. Returning Officer Nowshera Yasmeen Nusrat informed the bench that 13 female polling stations and 21 combined polling stations had no results.

Baloch, while talking to the media outside the courtroom, said they would conduct their own inquiry in these constituencies.

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


AliKuliKhan | 10 years ago | Reply

Agreed that women must participate in the voting process. But how can you make this happen through court orders. Law is already in place which does not discriminate. What other laws needs to be passed. Only cultural evolution will emancipate women. The judges are intellectually challenged not to recognize ground realities.

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