Election authorities in Pakistan today nullified the results of a by-election held in a remote district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last month that barred women from exercising their right to vote. Masroor Shah, a lawyer representing human rights activists and who challenged the legality of the elections, said that Chief Election Commissioner Justice Sardar Raza Khan has declared the by-elections of Lower Dir null and void and has ordered new elections. “Women from Dir have testified before the three-member inquiry commission that they were not allowed to vote,” Shah said. “The announcements had been made from a mosque’s loud speakers to stop women from participating in the elections.”
Shah added, “Surprisingly, even the district woman president of one of the contesting parties had not cast her vote.”
Aizaz-ul Mulk, a candidate for the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, had won the provincial assembly seat vacated by his party head Siraj ul Haq following his elevation to the Senate.
The constituency has approximately 54,000 registered women voters, but not a single one was allowed to vote on polling day, prompting protests from rights campaigners.