ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has ordered re-election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provincial assembly’s constituency (PK-23, Shangla) due to low turnout of women voters.
“The polls and their results in PK-23 have been declared void over low turnout of female voters,” says a statement issued by the ECP here on Friday.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate and former Provincial Minister for Information and Health Shaukat Yousafzai was earlier declared as returned candidate from this constituency in the July 25 polls.
However, the ECP on complaints of women being stopped from casting their vote in this constituency initiated a probe and it was found out that women votes were less than 10 per cent of the total polled votes in the constituency.
The Election Commission had earlier withheld the victory notification of PTI’s Shaukat Yousafzai and will now make arrangements for re-election.
According to the records shared by ECP, 86,698 women are registered to vote from the constituency however, out of which only 3,505 women cast their votes, which is in violation of ECP regulations.
The order came after Chief Election Commissioner Justice (Retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan headed a five-member commission on low female voter turnout in PK-23, Shangla constituency from where Yousafzai had won during the July 25 polls.
The ECP’s decision has served a blow to Yousafzai who is regarded an influential member of provincial PTI team and Imran Khan’s trusted ally.
On Friday during the hearing, neither the petitioner nor winning candidate Yousafzai appeared before the commission due to which the five members decided to withdraw the notification.
Later, seeking a reply from Yousafzai in the case, the commission adjourned hearing till August 13.
Shangla was earlier a subdivision of Swat District and women are traditionally barred from casting their vote in these districts. In 2013 too, women were not allowed to vote here as well as the adjacent district Lower Dir and a secret agreement was reached among PPP, ANP, JUI-F, PML-N and JI that female voters would not be allowed to cast their votes.
The Election Commission of Pakistan also has to look into a report whether a similar agreement was in place in Shangla during the 2018 elections too.
Yousafzai had won from PK-23, Shangla with 17,399 votes against Rishad Khan of PML-N (12371 votes).