Women banned from taking part in polls in Pakistan region

 Islamabad, May 1: In a bizarre diktat out of sync with modern-day ethos, the Jirga (religious assembly) in Gilgit Baltistan — an eight-hour drive from the Pakistan capital — has banned women from taking part in the coming assembly elections slated for June 8.

The Jirga — a traditiol assembly of leaders that takes decisions by consensus and according to the teachings of Islam — in Darel valley on late Thursday barred the women of the area from contesting and voting in the forthcoming elections. All candidates from ruling and opposition parties in the region taking part in the elections have agreed to abide by the Jirga diktat, which said that women’s participation in elections is against the cultural tradition of the area and the religious teachings. The Jirga’s decision is likely to disenfranchise more than 12,550 female voters of the GBLA-17, Diamer 3, constituency. A similar Jirga decision is pending in the adjacent Tangir Valley.

Human Rights organisations and activists have condemned the decision and asked the government to take necessary steps to ensure that women voters are allowed to exercise their legal right. Pakistan’s Bezir Bhutto was the world’s tenth — and Pakistan’s only — woman prime minister. (IANS)

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