The Pakistan People’s Party grabbed all four seats in by-elections held in Upper Dir on Thursday as women returned to polling booths after years.
The PPP candidates beat Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam candidates in the by-elections which were contested for Upper Dir’s Union Council Gwaldi, District Darora Counselor, Union Council Chakyatan’s General Counselor and Union Council Barawal’s Youth Counselor’s seat. By-elections were held three months after the Election Commission of Pakistan declared December 21, 2017’s elections null and void as local religious and liberal political party leadership in Union Council Darora reached a verbal agreement to bar women from casting votes.
Women partook in the elections with fervour as they exercised their right to vote. According to unofficial results, UC Gwaldi Districts Counselor’s seat was won by PPP’s Anar Gul with 1,743 votes while JUI’s Dawood Shah could only secure 989 votes.
UC Darorah district seat was won by PPP’s Saifullah with 2,325 votes, while JUI’s Syed Aizaz Yousuf came in a close second with 2,114 votes.
UC Chakyatan’s General Counselor seat was retained by PPP’s Siddiqullah with 710 votes, while JUI’s Nawabzada secured 532 votes. UC Barawal Der Khan Youth Counselor’s seat saw PPP’s Muhammad Akram winning with 473 votes. JUI’s Samiullah garnered 458 votes.
According to the election commission Upper Dir, total women voters in the by-elections were 2,599 in the by-elections which amounts to 12 per cent of the local population.
PPP dedicated its victory to its women voters. Women are said to have voted because of the ‘Benazir Card’, which could pose a problem for JUI in the future.
In December 2017, the National Commission on the Status of Women had urged the ECP to declare the result of Union Council Darora, Tehsil Upper Dir null and void.
Condemning the move, NCSW had said the practice was a violation of basic women’s right in Upper Dir. “It was unfortunate that political parties from right and left school of thought agreed to stop women from casting their vote despite the fact that the result of any such election would be declared null and void under the law,” it stated.