Monday March 10, 2014
Pakistani Christians Demand Right to Cast Dual VoteMushtaq Gill for Salem-News.com
PCC (Pakistan Christian Congress) urges ECP (Election Commission Of Pakistan) to end parliamentary selection of minorities on reserved seats.
(LAHORE, Pakistan) - The Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC), a political party fighting for the electoral rights of minorities in the country, has demanded the government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) give them the right to cast dual vote in the next general elections in line with the constitution.
The PCC is a political party registered with the ECP and representing the Christian community since its foundation in 1985. It has constituted around 100 councils in different cities of the country.
Representatives of different city councils, including Lahore, Kasur and Gujranwala, held a press conference at Lahore Press Club on Thursday and demanded that the ECP implement Article 226 of the constitution to give equal democratic rights to the Christians.
Mushtaq Gill, the president of Lahore Council, told the press conference that Christians have been deprived of their basic rights, as guaranteed in the constitutions, since 1947.
He said the promises made by Muslim leaders of the All India Muslim League to the leaders of All India Christian Association while seeking minorities’ favour for the Pakistan Movement were “totally neglected” by rulers in Pakistan.
He said the commitments made by the founder of Pakistan and measures adopted in the Pakistan Resolution in 1940 to safeguard social, religious, cultural and political rights of minorities have also been ignored.
Gill claimed that Christian leaders’ votes of favour in roundtable conferences in London from 1930-1933 and Boundary Commission made possible the creation of Pakistan. “But the element of hate among different religious communities was created by the government of Pakistan,” he alleged.
He said that the first Legislative Assembly had 48 seats in which Christian had four seats and speaker of that assembly was also a Hindu minority member in 1947.
In 1970, total seats of the assembly were increased to 235 according to Muslim population but only two seats of minorities were reserved which were not according to increase in minorities’ population. “This was a clear injustice and denial of equal democratic rights to minorities,” he said.
PCC Lahore Council Women’s Wing President Rohama Shah, while talking about the dual voting system of electorate, said that Muslim majority political parties with their influence in government agencies have always selected Christian candidates of their own choice, or on the basis of their financial status.
She said that there is no hindrance to award the privilege of dual voting to Christians that they may elect their own representatives under separate electorate and cast their votes to majority candidates in their respective constituencies like Muslims of Kashmir where they have privilege to cast vote for their Azad Kashmir Assembly and also for the National assembly of Pakistan in respective constituencies.
She said that the dual voting with limitation and delimitation of Christian seat constituencies could provide transparent election procedures and true representation of Christians may be ensured in democratic institutions.
Irfan Frances, while demanding religious freedom for minorities equal to the majority population of the country, said that after taking the Objective Resolution as a preamble of the 1973 Constitution, Christian
Personal Law (CPL) was an immediate target and Christian marriage was no more protected according to their religion in the country.
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