Sunday, April 28, 2013

Christians Demands Right to Cast Dual Vote

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s constitutional guidelines of August 11, 1947, lie buried in the debris of opportunist constitutionalism and repeated inventive nationalism that does not treat religious minorities at par with the majority community. Yet, as a silver lining, it is still possible to redress many imbalances under the aegis of the political parties, the Election Commission of Pakistan and the higher judiciary.Though the 1998 census puts the religious minorities of Pakistan at 3.86%, the population today can be estimated at 6,665,093. Yet, considering the demographic spread, the analysis of the electoral rolls and past elections, depict an entirely different picture. Christians varying of 8.7% population is mostly concentrated in Islamabad, Punjab, Karachi and Quetta.Under the article 36 of the constitution, the state is obliged to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities and presently under Article 51(4), ten seats are reserved for non- Muslims in the National Assembly. These seats are reserved for minorities in which the representatives are selected (not elected) by the political party which is in Majority. An example of that was Mr. Paul Bhatti who was a citizen of Italy for 37 years, he later came to Pakistan, obtained an identity card of the Country and became Federal Minister of Minorities. Was it necessary to appoint a foreigner as a Federal Minister of Minorities? Is there no leader in Pakistan from minorities? The system of reserved seats is unjust and is being enforced on minorities of Pakistan. Minorities particularly Christians need right to cast dual vote.Given an opportunity, the non – Muslims are capable of fielding candidates on general seats and capable of winning them in approximately 10 seats all over Pakistan; provided the political parties show the conviction and courage of fielding them. Alternatively, if properly utilized, they have the capability in these constituencies to swing results.We do not expect our problems to vanish over night nor are we seeking direct confrontation with the Government of Pakistan or for that matter the Muslim population. All we want is Justice and equal rights as Pakistanis, as enshrined in the Constitution of both Pakistan and the United Nations. We on our part are willing to cooperative with the government in making Pakistan a peaceful, progressive and developed nation provided we are treated as citizens with equal rights. The general attitude of the Christians is that of hopelessness, despair and if they could, they would love to depart Pakistan. Unfortunately that cannot happen, so the only final hope we Christians have is to look forward to United Nations and International/National Human Rights organizations’ assistance to improve our Quality of Life, where we can lead meaningful and decent lives without the constant fear of discrimination of one type or another.