Religious scholars in Pakistan have issued a decree declaring voting a 'religious responsibility' for every citizen of the country.
The move comes just days after the Taliban issued threats warning people, particularly women, against participating in the upcoming elections, reports The Express tribune.
The edict issued by the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) stated that it is the religious responsibility of every Pakistani to cast his vote because vote-casting is like deposing in a court of law.
The 40-page edict also stressed that women enjoyed equal rights as men to cast their vote and called for the establishment of separate booths for women at polling stations.
It added that 52 percent of the population could be left deprived of their right to vote in case women were barred from casting votes and prevented from accessing Parliament.
Although religious scholars were unanimous on women's right to vote, they differed on the way they should cast their votes. Some were of the opinion that women must not become a tool in election campaigns, while others felt there was no harm in women campaigning for candidates.
The edict also stated that it was necessary to take into consideration the credentials of candidates. The manifestos and constitutions of political parties should also be kept in mind in order to ensure complete impartiality in matters of caste, clan, sect and interests while electing a candidate, it added.
At the conclusion of the conference, religious scholars also issued a declaration condemning "certain forces that want to sabotage elections in Pakistan". This group, the declaration said, is blamed for not giving women the right to vote.
The declaration also called for the enhancement of interfaith harmony and religious reconciliation. (ANI)