All women may not be able to cast votes

QUETTA: The representatives of different political parties have pointed out lack of separate women polling stations in NA-258, which will voting for this segment a bit more hectic due to social and cultural taboos.

A contestant of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz urged the country’s election watchdog to increase the number of separate women polling stations in NA-258 in order to encourage women voters to cast their right of franchise freely.

He said the constituency was offering just 83 women polling facilities which were insufficient for almost 135,000 women to exercise their right to vote with ease.

Talking to APP, former minister Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasar, contesting from the same constituency, said, “The constituency (earlier known as NA-263) had witnessed only 26.6 per cent women turnout of a total of 93,016 female registered voters in the last general election of 2013 due to less number of dedicated polling stations for women.”

He said the Election Commission of Pakistan must keep in mind the social and cultural restraints, especially in the conservative areas, and allocate more places for women to ensure maximum turnout of this segment in the general polls.

Nasar feared that a large number of women voters of conservative districts of Loralai, Musakhel, Ziarat, Duki and Harnai would likely miss their right to franchise as the cultural norms “do not permit them to mix with the male segment” to cast votes”.

Pakistan Peoples Party candidate Sardar Sarbuland Jogizai, also a candidate from the constituency, said, “Due to scattered population and lack of transport facilities many women may not be able to reach the polling stations and this facility must be extended to their near hometowns for their maximum participation in the national electoral process.”

He said Baloch women were now more aware as compared to the past and a majority of them “want to play their role in strengthening the country’s democratic system”.

He also termed 83 polling stations insufficient for the constituency, saying that it may affect the turnout of the constituency. He demanded more independent polling stations to accommodate women of the areas.

A social activist Marriyum Bibi, expressing her dismay over the situation, said,  “It will deprive the women voters of their basic right to cast votes as 310 combined polling stations are unlikely to see more female voters due to social taboos.”

The constituency contains 313,893 total registered voters and among them are 135,091 women.

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