PESHAWAR, Feb 18: Women voters were barred from casting their votes in several parts of the NWFP -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PESHAWAR, Feb 18: Women voters were barred from casting their votes in several parts of the NWFP

PESHAWAR, Feb 18: Women voters were barred from casting their votes in several parts of the NWFP on Monday although, in a sharp contrast, they exercised their right to vote in South Waziristan for the first time in the region’s history.

In some areas, polling was stopped over allegations of bogus voting, leading to scuffles among female supporters of a number of candidates, reports reaching here from several districts said.

Dr Muneer Khan Orakzai, a candidate for the NA-38 seat, said that all candidates had decided to bring women to the polling stations in Wana. “People in other parts of the country are stopping women from voting but we have allowed them to cast their votes,” Mr Orakzai said.

Women were also allowed to vote for the first time in the Yakaghund and Landi Kotal areas.

In North Waziristan, however, women were forced to stay indoors.

In the outskirts of Peshawar, the so-called progressive political parties joined hands in barring women from casting their votes.

Tribal elders and local leaders of ANP, PPP, PML-Q, PML-N and JUI-F struck an agreement on Sunday night to keep women out of the electoral process, some people of Shakkarpura area of Peshawar told Dawn.

“The local leadership, after holding a jirga, decided that women will not cast their votes. They made the announcement on Sunday night from a local mosque,” they said.

A presiding officer of the area said that 1,372 women voters were registered and three polling booths had been set up for them, but not a single woman turned up. The female polling staff at a primary school in Isa Khel village (Daudzai area) of the Peshawar district were seen relaxing in the polling station.

At the women polling station in Isa Khel, the presiding officer told Dawn that the number of registered women was 659 but no woman voter turned up to vote.

Threatening pamphlets issued by militants and religious extremists were plastered on walls on the Kohat road close to Darra Adamkhel, warning women of suicide attacks if they came out to vote.

Similar threats forced women to remain indoors in Baddabher, Sarbund, Matanai, Sungo, Daibahadur, Achar, Ghari Ata Mohammad, Bahdur Kalay and Mathra areas.

Naseem Begum, a presiding officer at a polling station in Sarbund, told Dawn that only four women came to cast vote. Not a single woman voter turned up to cast vote at a polling booth with 106 registered voters. However, in urban areas the trend was different. In Nahaqi area of Peshawar, many women were seen casting vote.

A 50-year-old woman told Dawn that she had come out to vote on her own free will.

The presiding officer at a women’s polling station in NA-1 and PF-2 constituency said that around 906 women were registered and more than 200 had cast their votes by afternoon.

TIMERGARA: Women were stopped from voting in the Lower Dir district, officials and witnesses said. The number of registered women voters in the district was 145,377.

No woman turned up at any of the polling stations. The overall turnout was also low because of the boycott announced by Jamaat-i-Islami which has a large following in the district.

Women voters in Bachkan Ahmadzai, Aezerkhel, Jhangkhel and Chandukhel were also forced to stay indoors.

The situation was the same in most areas of Karak, Swabi and Hangu districts.

In Abbottabad, however, some women were seen at a number of polling stations in the district.
Source: Dawn
Date:2/19/2008