In at least seven booths, women stopped from voting

February 18th, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by admin  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, Feb 18 (IANS) Women in some areas North West Frontier Province (NWFP), tribal areas and Punjab were barred from voting in Pakistan’s general elections Monday. Authorities said they would take action against those behind the move. In Pakistan women and men vote in different polling stations. Out of the 80 million registered voters about 36 million are women.

At least seven polling stations meant for women in NWFP, tribal areas and Punjab were closed down after the “elders” there decided that women would not vote.

When contacted, an Election Commission spokesman said action would be taken against those stopping women from voting.

“We have received reports that voting has been stopped at women’s polling stations in these areas and we’ll take action against those involved in it,” the spokesman told IANS.

While tribal areas and NWFP has seen such incidents in the past, it was for the first time that such a step was taken in Punjab.

Reports said that in two polling stations of Sargodha, a city in Punjab, women were stopped from polling with the consent of the candidates and “elders” of the area.

“I have reports that elders in the tribal areas and some areas in Peshawar decided that voting by women is against our culture,” Peshawar district administrator Ghulam Ali told IANS.

He said voting had to be discontinued in Maryamzai, Budaber and other areas on the outskirts of Peshawar, which is close to the Afghan border where Al Qaeda and Taliban militants are active.

“This is their tradition. We can do nothing,” he said.

Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Farooq, in a televised speech Sunday, warned that stern action would be taken if people tried to prevent women from casting their votes.

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