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Parties, civil society to ensure women voters’ registration

LAHORE: Political parties, civil society organisations and the media have agreed to form a provincial committee for making coordinated efforts to enhance the registration of women voters in Punjab ahead of 2018 general election.

The consensus was developed at a consultation organised by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), in collaboration with its member organisation PATTAN here on Saturday. The committee will be mandated to take up the issue of registration of women for their computerised national identity cards (CNICs) with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and their subsequent registration as voters with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

“As many as 6.5 million women are not registered as voters in Punjab. These women may also be not registered for their CNlCs, which is a legal prerequisite for voter registration,” said FAFEN’s communications and advocacy manager Syed Abdul Ahad while speaking at the consultation attended by representatives of all major political parties, civil society organisations, and the media. Nadra, however, did not send any representative to the meeting.

The consultation also resolved that the government must ease the procedural formalities for the registration of CNIC and authorise local government chairmen and councillors for attestation of citizens’ registration application forms. It also urged Nadra to expand its existing infrastructure to include more facilitation centers, as well as Mobile Registration Vans.

TDEA-FAFEN CEO Shahid Fiaz termed the gap between male and female voters as one of the major electoral issues. He called upon the stakeholders to coordinate their efforts and form a committee to take up registration issues with the authorities concerned.

Ruling PML-N MNA Shaista Pervaiz Malik told the consultation that getting CNICs for citizens was a cumbersome process and required improvements. She said bureaucratic hurdles and lethargy on part of Nadra and other state institutions were the major causes for low women voter registration that needed to be urgently addressed. She stressed that ECP should pressurise Nadra to register as many citizens as possible before the upcoming general elections.

PTI MPA Saadia Sohail complained of the attitude of Nadra staff towards people, who had to wait in long queues for hours in hostile weather at the authority’s centres. She said CNIC was also a prerequisite for opening a bank account and registration of marriage, asking the government to improve the working of Nadra for enhanced registration of citizens.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan representative Hussain Naqi said the existing Nadra infrastructure was inadequate to register 6.5 million women in Punjab. He proposed that ECP should issue ‘Voter Cards’ to citizens as was done in India.

ECP Deputy Director Rai Sultan Bhatti, Sangat Development Foundation’s Zahid Islam as well as representatives of PPP, Jamaat-i-Islami, Awami Workers Party and MQM-Pakistan also spoke on the occasion.

courtesy : dawn news

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