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Islamabad HC sends back to poll body case of violation of 5 per cent general seats quota for women

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Islamabad, Feb 8 (PTI) The Islamabad High Court has sent back to the election commission the case of the violation of the five per cent general seats quota for women by political parties in the general elections.

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Justice Aamer Farooq on Wednesday said general elections on Thursday could not be stopped but directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take action on the complaint as per law after the polls, Dawn News reported.

The Aurat Foundation had filed a petition against the poll body for non-compliance with Section 206 of the Elections Act 2017 which says that a minimum of 5 per cent of general seat tickets be given to women by all political parties in the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies.

Pakistan has reserved seats for women to ensure female representation in the legislative process on both national and provincial levels to promote gender equality in governance.

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The Aurat Foundation, known for its advocacy for women’s rights, highlighted the violation of the said provision in a letter addressed to Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja ahead of the national polls.

“We are dismayed to find that some political parties have not observed the legal requirement under section 206 of the [election] act and section 6 of the Code of Conduct for political parties, to award a minimum of 5 per cent tickets to women candidates on general seats,” the letter said.

According to the data compiled by the organisation, only the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had met the requirement by awarding 9.6 and 7.8 per cent of women candidates tickets on general seats for the National Assembly.

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Others, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (4.5 per cent), Jamaat-e-Islami (4.4 per cent) and Awami National Party (3.3 per cent) remained below the required benchmark.

Balochistan National Party and Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam-Fazl did not field female candidates on any general seat for the National Assembly.

Most of the parties also violated the provision on the provincial level, according to the Pakistani women’s rights organisation.

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Justice Farooq referred the matter to the ECP about the status of 5 per cent general seat tickets.

The ECP, through its lawyers, responded that the complaint of the Aurat Foundation and the affidavits of political parties were under consideration and that the poll body was doing its evaluation.

Last month, the ECP directed all the political parties to ensure mandatory 5 per cent representation of women candidates on general seats under Section 206 of the Elections Act, 2017. PTI PY AKJ PY PY

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