ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan People’s Party Senator Farhatullah Babar on Friday said that the 1.2 million women missing from the voters’ lists must be registered so that they could take part in the 2018 elections.

The lawmaker, while addressing a seminar organised by the National Commission on the Status of Women here, said there was a need for National Emergency Voters Registration Drive --- if necessary through legislation - to make national identity cards for all the over 1.2 million women missing from the voters lists to help them take part in the 2018 elections.

The seminar was aimed at brain storming on how to enable the women missing from the voters lists cast their vote in the general elections due next year.

“The national drive should include setting up emergency registration centres, mobile registration vans, incentives by waving registration fee, training staff, opening special women registration centres and providing needed funds to the Nadra [National Database and Registration Authority], while at the same time holding it accountable,” he said.

Senator Babar added: “In addition a thought should also be given to whether instead of mandatory Computerised National Identity Card multiple identity documents may be allowed and whether a way can be found to register as voters women enlisted in the 2017 census even without possessing the CNIC.”

The backlog, he said, was piling up daily as in addition to the 1.2 million, “another 3,500 women entered into missing list every day as they attained the voter age.”

Babar said if elections were to be held on time next year the women missing form voters lists would have to be provided CNICs in less than 150 days to enable them to vote.

“The existing capacity of the Nadra and its outreach to the public however permits it to issue CNICs to only 7,000 persons per day. Even if the Nadra focused largely on women it may still not be able to provide more than 5,000 CNICs daily to them. It will take more than 15 years for the missing women to find their names in the voters’ lists,” he said, adding by that time many more would have also become eligible.

The senator said disenfranchising women meant disempowering them.

“Out of the box solutions will thus have to be found to address the issue,” he added.

The senator said merely criticising the Nadra would not provide any solution.

“We also have to empower it to undertake this gigantic task. Give it resources and hold it accountable also,” he maintained.

The senator said in the first instance the focus should be on launching special drive in those districts where the gender voting gap was the largest.

By doing so, he said, the Nadra would not spread itself too thin and gains would be the highest. Babar said legislation might be made if necessary for launching the national emergency voters drive.