Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




DEMOCRACY
Pakistani women face road blocks to vote
by Aamir Saeed
Islamabad, Pakistan (UPI) Mar 29, 2013


Pakistan's nuclear father not contesting vote: party
Islamabad (AFP) March 29, 2013 - The father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb has decided not to contest general elections in May, but will support his party and its allies on the campaign trail, a party spokesman said Friday.

Many Pakistanis regard Abdul Qadeer Khan, 76, as a hero for building the Muslim world's first atomic bomb but in the West he is considered a dangerous renegade since admitting in 2004 to selling nuclear secrets on the black market.

He later retracted his remarks and was freed from house arrest in Islamabad in 2009, but he remains under pressure from the authorities to keep a low profile.

Khan last November registered his Tehreek-e-Tahafuzz Pakistan or Save Pakistan Movement (SPM) to contest general elections for the first time and was allotted the symbol of a missile on request.

"Doctor Abdul Qadeer Khan will not take part in the election, but he will continue to befittingly support his party and its allies," party spokesman Rohail Akbar said in a statement.

"The party candidates and our allies have obtained nomination papers and they will stand for election in all parts of Pakistan," Akbar said.

The party is campaigning on a ticket to end corruption, inflation and power cuts, but is not expected to win many votes.

The May 11 vote stands to mark the first democratic transition of power in Pakistani history, which has been dominated by four military rulers.

With Pakistan facing landmark general elections May 11, cultural bars on women voting are so entrenched in conservative parts of the country that thousands of women are unlikely to vote, interviews show.

This is the first time in Pakistan's 66-year history that one civilian government will replace another through a vote.

Nevertheless, thousands of women, especially in restive Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces bordering Afghanistan are unlikely to cast ballots. Even the Election Commission of Pakistan has done little to end the taboo, critics say, although interviews show Pakistani women are interested in taking part in the poll.

Interviews in Mianwali, in Punjab province, where women were barred from voting in a 2012 by-election, showed that women are prevented by male elders from going to polling places, let alone contesting elections. A village woman, who asked that her name not be used, said she wanted to vote in the May elections but, "I'm sure my husband won't allow me to do so."

She said she hadn't voted in any election but that her sisters in Lahore "not only cast their vote but also attend political gatherings in their city."

"I will vote for the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf candidate if my husband allows me to go to polling station," the woman said, referring to the party of former cricket star Imran Khan, although she added that she didn't know much about her political and human rights.

Khurshid Alam Baba, a tribal elder of the city of Malakand, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where women were barred from voting in 2008 general elections, said by phone that women's participation in the election process was against Islamic teachings and tribal culture, so they weren't allowed to leave their homes to take part in the elections.

"Women are a weaker creature," he said. "They can't differentiate between a good candidate and a bad candidate."

"It is also against our culture," he said, to allow women to mingle with men and go outside the home "without any valid reason."

Baba said elders would reject any government effort to enforce a decision that violated their culture and Islamic teachings.

"We don't want to invite wrath of militants and Taliban by allowing our women to go to polling stations on the Election Day," he said.

Statistics from the Free and Fair Election Network, an organization with headquarters in Islamabad that monitors elections, indicate that women were barred from voting at 564 of the country's 64,176 polling stations in 2008 general elections.

"Thousands of women were deprived of their right to vote across Pakistan," said Mudassar Rizvi, the organization's chief executive officer.

The cases were brought to the attention of the ECP "but no action was initiated to resolve the issue," he said.

He predicted that the same thing would happen in the May elections.

Official data indicate that Pakistan has more than 48 million registered male voters and just more than 37 million female registered voters, although a 2012 World Bank report says the country's population is 49.19 percent female.

The ECP had moved to nullify results of constituencies or polling stations with female voter turnout of less than 10 percent but the proposal was rejected by political parties that said the war against terror in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas would hinder implementation of the ECP decision.

Although it is "unfortunate" that parliamentarians haven't legislated to ensure women's participation in the electoral process, the commission has an alternative, ECP official Raja Iftikhar said.

"The commission plans to deploy a team of four members in each constituency to check the violation of rules, rigging and ensure free participation of women in the electoral process," he said.

At the same time, he said polling stations in Balochistan and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are often 30-35 miles away so it is difficult for women to vote.

"Pakistan is a patriarchal and conservative society. It will take time to ensure full participation of women in the electoral process. There is no quick fix to it," he said.

Jamila Gallani, a former member of the National Assembly of Awami National Party from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said it is the state's responsibility to ensure that women contest elections and cast votes without fear.

She cited threats from the Taliban and other militant groups if women leave their homes to vote, adding that tribal culture bars women from contesting elections and participating in the electoral process. However, Gallani claimed that her party worked hard during the last five years to end the taboo and said she hoped more women would participate in the planned election.

"My party believes in full participation of women in the electoral process," she said, something that has been included in the party's manifesto.

Constitutional expert and human rights activist Syed Mohammad Zafar blames lack of will by the ECP for hindering women's participation in the electoral process.

"The Representation of the People Act, 1976, fully empowers the election commission to declare result of a polling station or constituency null and void if it receives authentic information about barring women from casting vote. There is no need to further legislate on the issue," he said.

Zafar said the commission has never exercised the power to break the taboo.

"The ECP's lack of will emboldens tribal elders and village committees to go ahead with their nefarious ways of not allowing women to be part of the electoral process," he said.

(The writer is a journalist based in Islamabad, Pakistan)

.


Related Links
Democracy in the 21st century at TerraDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





DEMOCRACY
EU condemns Russia rights crackdown
Brussels (UPI) Mar 28, 2013
The European Union's foreign policy chief says raids by Russian authorities on non-governmental organizations operating in the country are "deeply troubling." EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said Tuesday the months-long series of crackdowns on foreign-funded NGOs in Russia are being carried out under "vague legal grounds" and are "worrisome since they seem to be aimed at further ... read more


DEMOCRACY
Shellfish gone near damaged nuke plant

Hopes fade in search for survivors of Tibet landslide

Half of Indonesians at risk of landslides: official

China mine blast kills 28: state media

DEMOCRACY
CO2 could produce valuable chemical cheaply

Catalyst in a teacup: New approach to chemical reduction

Lasers could yield particle research tool

Paint-on plastic electronics: Aligning polymers for high performance

DEMOCRACY
Outside View: Transboundary rivers treaty

Scientists confirm first two-headed bull shark

Predictions of climate impacts on fisheries can be a mirage

Researchers Issue Forecast for 'Moderate' New England Red Tide in 2013

DEMOCRACY
Arctic 'greening' seen through global warming

China plans more Antarctica research sites

Summer melt season is getting longer on the Antarctic Peninsula

The long winter ahead

DEMOCRACY
Pig wasting syndrome costing farmers millions

US regulators under fire over bee-toxic pesticides

The latest genomic studies of wheat sheds new light on crop adaptation and domestication

Swiss baby formula 'adulterated by Chinese partner'

DEMOCRACY
US thanks Japan for help with tsunami debris

Strong quake kills one, injures 86 in Taiwan

Iceland sees unusual seismic activity at Hekla volcano

Huge and widespread volcanic eruptions triggered the end-Triassic extinction

DEMOCRACY
Nigerian Easter day military raid leaves 15 dead

Obama to meet African leaders Thursday

S.Africa opposition wants troops out of Central Africa

S.African troops alarmed over killing child soldiers in C. Africa

DEMOCRACY
First evidence of Neanderthal/human mix

Urban vegetation deters crime in Philadelphia

Patents said threat to 'genomic liberty'

'End of Men'? Not Even Close, Says UC San Diego Report on Gender in the Professions




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement