TIMERGARA - Although the turnout remained relatively low, the re-election on a total of 19 local government seats was most noteworthy for the women of Lower Dir, who were permitted to vote for the first time.

Earlier, the Election Commission of Pakistan had nullified the poll results after the women were barred from casting votes in the local government elections.

Two tehsil councilor, 11 general councilor, one peasant councilor and five youth councilor seats were up for grab.

According to unofficial results, the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) candidate won tehsil Samarbagh seat by securing 322 votes against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate who secured 62 votes. Samarbagh is the constituency of JI chief Sirajul Haq.

Likewise, according to unofficial results, the Pakistan People’s Party candidate grabbed the Shahi Khel Talash tehsil council seat by securing 1442 votes against JI’s nominee who got 1,228 votes. Earlier, the JI candidate Gul Hakim had won the seat which was declared null and void by the ECP after a low participation of women voters was witnessed.

On December 21 last year, the ECP declared null and void by-polls held in Lower Dir as not a single woman had cast her vote and some of the losing candidates had filed writ petitions against polls in the court with the plea that women were debarred from the polls after which the poll body ordered re-election on these seats.

Local sources said that this time around, hundreds of women voters in union council Shahi Khel Talash, union council Lajboak and tehsil Samarbagh showed up at polling stations and used their right to enfranchisement. However, in some areas like Baba Gam in Maidan, village council Adoki and union council Sultan Khel, candidates boycotted the re-election and the turnout remained almost zero, the sources said.

Talking to the media, Additional Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Irshad Khan said that the district administration received no complaint of debarring women from the polling process.