Gender based participation in electoral process: Political point of view in contemporary Pakistan

Humayun Khan

Following immature dissolution of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies and upcoming general elections in both the provinces of Pakistan The Frontier Post has asked ten questions from Pakistan Awami National Party (ANP), Jammiat-e-Ulema Islam Fazal (JUI-F), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leaderships regarding “Gender based participation in electoral process”.
The questions follow as:

  1. Approximately half of voters: who can women play their role in contemporary politics?
  2. Early/Immature dissolution of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies: May beneficial for PTI or PDM and other allied parties in upcoming elections?
  3. Party’s policy for distribution of tickets and political alliances for elections of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies?
  4. Role of women in decision making at both capacities in party and at treasury benches…
  5. Party’s policy towards women participation in electoral process?
  6. Party initiatives for uplift of women rights during government and way forward in this regard?
  7. How political parties will arrange election campaign especially women participation in current situation?
  8. The role of women at both domestic and national level in contemporary Pakistan?
  9. How parliamentarians have upheld voice for restoration student’s union and women participation electoral system on the floor of Assembly?
  10. How much women candidates are expected to contest election on general seat especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? Opinion
  11. Moreover, four questions were forwarded to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa asking: 1. Role of ECP to maximize women participation in Electoral process, 2. ECP plan for holding elections in Khyber Pakhunkhwa in current situation specially to assure women participation, 3. How ECP should ensure maximum candidates on General Election irrespective 5% quota specified by law, 4. Significance of women participation in Electoral process especially in patriarchal society.
    It is worthy to mention that Former MPA Khyber Pakhtunkhwa& ANP leader Samar Haroon Bilour was contacted and questionnaire was forwarded to her while response of the question was reminded but to no veil.
    Although, PML-N leaders Farah Khan and Shazia Aurangzeb was contacted while former neither received the call nor responded to text message. However, Shazia Aurangzeb was contacted and questionnaire was forwarded to her and reminded but she doesn’t respond to The Frontier Post.
    ECP Point of View;
    ECP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa spokesperson responded that Sohail Ahmad stated that; 1. As per section 9 of the election act is the total turnout of women is less than 10% out of the total polled votes the election of that constituency stands to be null and void. Furthermore, ECP has been raising awareness through DVECs. Awareness sessions have been arranged in girl’s colleges, schools and universities. Inclusive NIC/voter registration and has been initiated as a joint campaign with NADRA and the development partners in which MRVS are deployed for making NICs of women at their door step.
  12. Proper security arrangements have been put in place in coordination with LEA’s to insure free & fair elections, moreover Female security personal shall be deployed to facilitate women. 3. Section 206 of election act 2017 ensures that women can contests’ elections on general seats and Female folk consist 48-50% of the total population of Pakistan and have a pivotal role in the electoral process, the spokesperson concluded.
    PTI’s Point of View;
    Vice President PTI Women Wing and Former Parliamentary Secretary Higher Education Department at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Ayesha Bano said that mass awareness campaign was launched with her personal interests to reduce gender gap in electoral processes. She added that population of Pakistan comprised of 51% women folk and their exclusion from political sphere shouldn’t be beneficial for society.
    Ayesha Bano claimed that during PTI public awareness campaign in2015 had stressed upon significance of votes and community indulgence in electoral processes especially in patriarchal society. She added that increase of quota on general seats for women through legislation shall ultimately achieve the gender-gap in electoral process.
    Responding to question regarding immature dissolution of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Assemblies that the decision was taken in larger public’s interest irrespective of political gains or losses, Ayesha answered. The participation of women folk in politico-social activities regardless of difference in ideologues and narratives hopeful for both electoral and economic development in Pakistan, Bano added.
    The party has arranged doo to door campaign to outreach women for mass mobilization for female folk to participated in electoral process, she claimed. Bano added that party has granted several tasks to women wing including the abovementioned and composition of organizational structure for upcoming elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies.
    Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has passed first ever gender-sensitive budget for 2022-23 while answering to steps taken for uplift of women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, former parliamentary secretary for HED. Bano said that Provincial Ombudsperson has been appointed for the first time in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which has benefited women at large. She added that Domestic Violence Bill and Anti-harassment at workplace Act which has included three tiers of financial, physical and psychological violence.
    The current situations especially economic crunch will impact election campaign especially female folk because women comprising 65% home-based workers, she added. It is high time for politicians to sit together to overcome current situation at both fronts of economy and security in larger national interest, former parliamentary secretary asserted. Bano claimed that PTI had introduced educated women in Local Governments like doctors, lawyers and other professionals.
    PTI’s leader argued that Women Parliamentary Caucus comprised all female parliamentarians irrespective of their political affiliations. Bano uphold that reserve seats at parliament has ensure participation of women in legislation but political parties must grant significant tickets to female on general seats which will decisively change perception of society while responding to questions regarding party position on granting of candidature on general seats to women. It is proclaimed that democracy is developing through evolution and gradual process which ultimately benefits the electoral procedure in the society. Ayesha Bano concluded.
    JUI-F’s leader Asif Iqbal Daudzai opinion;
    Responding to The Frontier Post Asif Iqbal Daudzai stated that JUIF as a party has always encouraged the participation of women in balloting to express their role and opinion. He added that being a political party JUI is always ready to take part in any election but dissolving the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies by PTI was just a quest to satisfy the ego of Imran Khan.
    Furthermore, Daudzai added that JUIF is always the first choice of the masses and the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has shown great confidence in the Local Government election held last year. He added that JUI-F has always prioritize uplift of public at large especially women as marginalized segment in the society.
    Answering to issuance of party’s candidatures and political alliances, he proclaimed that JUIF is keen to go to elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab without forming any alliances but case to case bases adjustments are always an option. He added that the party’s policy asserting on maximum participation in the both provinces.
    JUI-F leader specified that women represent half of the population and there for the party has already considered their views in policy making. He added that JUI-F has developed exclusive policy for diverse opinions within party to ensure maximum representation of society.
    Meanwhile, JUI-F has proven the agenda of women uplifting while it was in power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the then North West Frontier Province (NWFP) by establishing Women University, women medical College, women sports directorate, Daudzai asserted. He added that in the federation our MNA is serving as Parliamentary Secretary in the current coalition government of Pakistan Democratic Movement.
    In the meantime, women’s participation to contest on general seats seems at distance with respect of culture and norms of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but they have their participation on reserve seats while actively taking part in the assembly. JUI-F has issued party’s tickets to women in the local government election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and have won in large numbers, Daudzai concluded.