Tribal women warned not to vote
MIRANSHAH: An unknown group on Wednesday warned that women in a restive tribal region should not vote in Saturday’s general election, threatening punishment.
“The people of Waziristan are hereby warned that they should not allow their women to cast votes and shouldn’t let any candidate influence them”, said the pamphlet, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
Signed by ‘Mujahedeen’, the leaflets were thrown from vehicles into shops in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border, an AFP reporter said.
“Take our words, this kind of disgraceful act will not be tolerated and anyone influencing women to cast a vote will be punished,” the pamphlet said.
North Waziristan is one of seven tribal districts on the rugged border with Afghanistan which are a haven for Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants.
In tribal communities women live in purdah, confined to women’s-only quarters at home. They do not go shopping, they do not work outside the house and they only go to hospital in a dire emergency.
Out of a population of 180 million in Pakistan, 37 million women and 48 million men are registered to vote in the May 11 polls in a country that has been ruled by generals for half its life and where military coups have repeatedly interrupted democracy.
But in the conservative northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, adjoining tribal areas on the Afghan border and southwestern province of Balochistan, few women voted at the last election and officials fear it will be the same again.
In 2008, not a single vote was cast at 564 of 28,800 women’s polling stations, officials said. In the most conservative areas, officials estimated women’s turnout at 10-15 percent of those registered. afp