Denying Women’s Right
Pakistan’s government machinery has always found it difficult to protect the fundamental rights of its citizenry. Especially women, ethnic, and religious minorities are discriminated against in every walk of life; thus Article 25 of the Constitution, which holds every citizen of the country equal before the law, gets violated many a time every single day.
Women in lower and upper Dir were barred from exercising their right to vote in the recently held local government by-elections. This act goes against the spirit of article 25(2) of the Constitution that bars discrimination on the basis of sex. According to the local activists, the political parties entered into an unwritten pact not to allow women to cast their vote.
While such actions and pacts are illegal, Election Commission of Pakistan is yet to take action on zero activity of female voters. It is not the first time that women are not allowed to choose the representative they want to. In the past too, they refrained from polling process. However, in 2015 the ECP took a landmark step to declare the by-elections void as females were forced not to cast their votes. ECP needs to look into the matter. It is a straightforward case. There are technicalities involved. Laws regarding female polling have been violated in the process.
According to the Gazette of Pakistan, ACT NO. XXXIII OF 2017, if Commission is satisfied that provisions of this Act or rules are violated, it has the power to call upon the voters to recast their votes. In the explanation of section 9 of Chapter 3 of the Act, it is stated that below 10 % female votes will mean that women voters have been restrained through an agreement and in that case, the Commission has the power to declare the elections void. Not declaring the by-elections void will mean that ECP is not only failing in performing its duty but also violating the rules.