The Peshawar High Court has dismissed a petition against the alleged disenfranchisement of women, in the recent Pk-95 Lower Dir by-election, over the absence of tangible evidence of ‘ban’ on women voters. This petition was signed by several women voters, who requested the court to declare the election on May 7 null and void, ordering a fresh one, given that not a single woman was allowed to caste vote. Despite the support of civil society organizations, including Aurut Foundation and South Asia Partnership Pakistan, there has been no condemnation of any sort of violation of a code of conduct.

What is interesting is that the lawyer defending the women voters, claimed that the PK-95 candidates and elders had made a verbal agreement to stop women from casting vote in the by election. It had been already announced that women would not caste vote, leading to them not even going to the polling stations. Here, the question that should arise is of where the government in Peshawar, the ‘legally’ allotted leaders, was when these outrageous decisions were being passed? If Article 25(2) of the Constitution guarantees that there shouldn’t be any sort of discrimination against the people on the basis of sex, why has it been possible for local ‘jirgas’ or elders to be influential enough to pass such actions?

The chief justice observed that as petitioners did not put forth any concrete evidence that there had been any sort of violation of rights, how the court could possibly assume that women were barred from voting. Here, one should have seen the lack presence of even a single woman as a clear sign of disenfranchisement.

The bigger question that should be answered is, when Pakistan will see a democratic system, one that does not sideline women, on the basis of a certain influence or in the name of culture. If the government in K-PK is trying to portray an image of being ‘progressive’ or working for all citizens, then the voices of those that have always been systematically been discriminated, if not greater, should be given an equal say and representation.