The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday directed all political parties to ensure they are in accordance with Section 206 of the Elections Act, 2017, mandating them to ensure 5 percent representation of women candidates on general seats for the Feb. 8 elections.
In a statement, the electoral body said all parties must submit a list of male and female candidates issued party tickets within five days for verification that they have adhered to Section 206.
Of the major political parties, both the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) have claimed they meet the criteria. The PPP traditionally fields several women candidates, while the PMLN has been boosted by the presence of its chief organizer, Maryam Nawaz, who has sought to encourage more women to participate in electoral politics.
The ECP order was issued a day after the allotment of electoral symbols to candidates of all registered parties. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), however, lost its electoral symbol after the Supreme Court upheld an ECP order withdrawing it over contested intra-party polls. Its candidates must now all contest polls as independent candidates, with each aspirant allotted a separate electoral symbol.
Under the schedule issued by the ECP for the upcoming elections, all parties can now campaign for the polls until 48 hours before polls, i.e. Feb. 8.