Women were stopped from voting in Pakistan’s elections on Saturday in the northwestern tribal district of North Waziristan, a notorious Taliban stronghold, residents said.
North Waziristan is one of seven semi-autonomous districts on the rugged border with Afghanistan which are a haven for Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Tribesmen were informed through mosque loudspeakers early Saturday that no woman would be allowed to leave home and cast a vote, according to a local resident in North Waziristan’s main town of Miranshah.
In North Waziristan, many women live in purdah, confined to women-only quarters at home and prevented from leaving the premises without a male relative.
On Wednesday pamphlets were handed out in Miranshah warning tribesmen not to let women vote in Saturday’s general election, threatening punishment for those who did.
“Take our words, this kind of disgraceful act will not be tolerated and anyone influencing women to cast a vote will be punished,” said the pamphlet, signed by “Mujahedeen” and thrown from vehicles into shops.
Women’s turnout was weak in the most conservative, rural parts of Pakistan at the last elections in 2008, particularly the tribal belt, the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwestern Baluchistan provinces.
Of the more than 86 million registered voters in Pakistan for Saturday’s election, 37 million are women and 48 million men.
In 2008, not a single vote was cast at 564 of 28,800 women’s polling stations -- 55 percent of them in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, officials said. In the most conservative areas, officials estimated women’s turnout at just 10 to 15 percent of those registered.
In Pakistan, voters brave chaos and long linesA doctor stood in line for hours to vote in Pakistan's election, slipped away to deliver a baby and then returned to choose a candidate - only to find ... Features
Official: Pakistan polls close, ‘huge’ turnout in PunjabPolling stations closed at 6 p.m. (1300 GMT) in Pakistan’s historic general elections, which saw a “huge” turnout in the largest ... Asia
Video: Imran Khan elected to Parliament in Pakistan’s PeshawarPakistani cricket star turned politician Imran Khan was Saturday elected into parliament in the northwestern city of Peshawar, where his main opponent ... Asia