Peshawar: Of the more than ten thousand candidates that have filed nomination papers for the local government elections next month, 1090 are women.

Pir Maqbol Ahmad, deputy regional election commissioner told News Lens that total 10,906 candidates had filed their nomination papers for different slots in district Peshawar. Of this 1090 – ten percent exactly – are women seats.

Giving a breakdown of the total figure, Pir said 793 had submitted papers for tehsil/town, 4376 for general seats,1090 for women seats,1643 for peasant and workers seats and 1670  for youth  seats. Of the non-Muslim seats, 207 candidates including Sikhs,Hindus and Christians would be contesting the local bodies elections being held on 30 May.

The ECP official said the submission of nomination papers for the upcoming local government elections has come to an end and an initial list of candidates displayed.

According to the Election Commission official, different political parties and independent candidates would contest election on  92 Union and 92 tehsil councils across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

“It is a good sign and goes to show that people want democracy to flourish and have their own local leaders at the village level,” said Pir.

He said it would not be wrong to say that Pakistani citizens had now  realized the importance of a democratic system. He said 68 women at district level while 67 at town and tehsils level had filed their nomination papers for the local government polls.

“I would say it gives a good message to the world that more than ten thousands candidates had filed their documents for nominations – both independent and candidates of different political parties across the district,” said Pir.

The Election Commission has started scrutiny of the nomination papers and these would be finalized on April 25th.

Appeals against the acceptance or rejection of the nomination papers could be filed from April 29 to May 4.
According to ECP rules candidates would be allowed to withdraw nomination papers by May 25 and the election symbols would be allotted the same day.

A final list of the candidates would be issued on May 6 and the polls would be held on May 30 across Khyber Pakhtunkwa.

According to the ECP documents available with News Lens Pakistan, 2,890 polling booths would be established across the Peshawar district where 1,365,435 registered voters would poll their vote.

On the other hand, the ECP has asked all the political parties to provide a priority list of their candidates for reserved seats including women, youth, peasants, minorities for their district, tehsils, and town council by April 19.

The commission said in a statement issued to media that any list submitted after the given date would not be accepted and parties would lose representation on the reserved seats.

It said in the statement that a deputy commissioner had been appointed as district returning officer for the local government elections.

Meanwhile, Candidates and voters were seen visiting the election commission offices along with supporters, showing eagerness on part of general public to strengthen democracy and transfer of powers to grassroots.

The Jamiat Ulema Islam (Fazlurehman) town council candidate Asad Khan Shinwari,40,who contesting town-III seat, told News Lens on the premises of election commission regional office that his party had entered into a  tri-partite arrangement with Pakistan People’s Party(PPP) and Awami National Party(ANP) for the coming elections.

Asad said JUI-F had 61 candidates across the KP while candidates reserved seats would be declared soon.

“I believe that not only the common man would be empowered to have a say in all matters related to his or her village development but everyone would be given justice, basic facilities and other basic rights at their doorsteps,” said Asad Khan who would be contesting the local government elections for the second time in his political career.

He said compared to the last local elections, fifty percent more women had filed their papers for the coming polls.
Asad said his party trusted him as he was placed for an important seat for the second time. “I had served my voters when i was elected as general councilor in last LBs”,said Asad.

Haji Atta Khan,48, an independent candidate for a general councilor from Regilalma village neighborhood, told News Lens that it was his political debut, encouraged by his fellow candidates at his village in Regilalma to start politics.
He said he believes in healthy and true politics which would help resolve all the genuine problems of his villagers.

“I am not much educated but want to participate in the elections to play a role in making a prosperous and  democratic Pakistan,” said Atta Khan.

Shah Begam, a woman candidate who only went to a primary school, said her husband was a social worker who supported her to contest local government elections.

Begum said: “I want to become a symbol for  other women of my village as they have no jobs but to look after their  kids.”

She added that the election turnout would be affected this time by the shuffling of union councils creating problems for the voters.

She said women used their funds for the welfare of other women who are kept ignorant of their rights.

Abdullah, 23, was looking for a voters’ list pasted on the wall of the ECP office to see where his vote was registered. He urged  voters to elect educated and social candidates.

“We should vote those we know, who can be approached easily to resolve our problems,” he said. “We have elected MNAs and MPAs in the general elections but haven’t seen them in the last two years.The local body members would be available to us 24-hour a day.”

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