After pressure from the media and civil society, the Election Commission of Pakistan, for the first time in the country’s electoral history, annulled the by-poll of PK-95 Dir held on 7th May 2015, owing to an all-male voter turnout and disenfranchisement of women from freely casting a vote as an outcome of the non-implementation of state policy, mismanaged elections and discriminatory societal attitudes.
Earlier in the General Elections of 2013, ECP had issued directives to all political parties and religious groups to ensure the emancipation of women in the voting process and had decided not to accept the polling result of any constituency having less than 10% of female voting turnout. The government had also warned of imprisoning anyone who barred women from voting.
It is important to take timely steps to encourage and facilitate Pakistani women in exercising their right to vote and to mobilize citizens in support of women’s voting, particularly in regions where female voter turnout has been low. It is only fair and right that those who must obey the laws as equal citizens should also have a voice towards their legislation.
The decision by ECP has been welcomed by the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus as well as jurists and lawyers. Fresh elections are to be held in Dir and a new election schedule is to be announced soon.