Peshawar: Election authorities in Pakistan have ordered an inquiry into reports that women are being barred from voting in parts of conservative northwest Pakistan in the general elections on Wednesday.
The Provincial Election Commissioner (PEC) has directed the District Returning Officers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Malakand Region to conduct an inquiry into the reports.
Some NGOs had submitted a written complaint to the election commissioner about signing of agreements between the candidates of political parties for barring women from voting, a spokesman for KP Election Commission said.
The Provincial Election Commissioner has also taken notice of reports in a section of the media about expectation of less women voting in Swabi and Batagram areas of the province.
In this connection, directives were also issued to DROs and deputy commissioners concerned to ensure freedom to cast vote to every citizen in the mentioned areas. Malakand Division consists of Swat, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Shangla, Buner, Chitral, Malakand and Bajaur districts.
The provincial election commissioner has set up a special women's desk in the provincial election office that will entertain complaints related to women voting in the province.
Pakistan will go to polls on Wednesday to elect a new prime minister in the second democratic transition of power in the nation’s 70-year chequered history amid accusations of manipulation by the powerful army and concerns over the participation of Islamic hardliners in large numbers.