GILGIT: Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Election Commissioner Justice Tahir Ali Shah took strong exception on Monday to a decision taken by a jirga last week to bar women from voting in legislative assembly elections.
The CEC said it was nothing short of a criminal act.
Justice Shah asked G-B Chief Secretary Tahir Hussain and IGP Zafar Iqbal Awan to conduct an enquiry and register cases against the jirga members if they fail to withdraw their decision. “Barring women from voting is a crime,” Justice Shah told The Express Tribune on Monday, just a few days after the jirga banned women from polling in the Darel Valley for the June 8 elections.
“Candidates among these jirga members may also face disqualification,” said the CEC.
“I have written to the chief secretary and the police chief to conduct an enquiry and register cases if anyone is found guilty.”
The controversial decree—issued by 40 jirga members, including religious scholars, community elders and candidates from JUI-F, PPP, PTI and PML-N—drew the ire of politicians and activists as it threatens to disenfranchise roughly 15,000 women in the electoral process.
Explaining reasons leading to the decree, clerics in Darel Valley said women polling officers and agents were not available for polling booths. They said the main reason was the lack of literacy.
“Under such circumstances, men would perform duties at women’s polling stations which is against our norms,” Maulana Farman Wali told reporters in Chilas, headquarters of Diamer valley.
“The situation in Darel is different from the rest of the district; we shouldn’t forget this,” said Maulana Roshan Khan, another cleric. -- The Express Tribune