LAHORE: Members of the minority communities including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis and others on Thursday demanded the government and political parties that they want elections, not selections.
They regretted that Pakistan still refuses to integrate minorities in its politics despite the passage of 70 years. They said that members of minorities had rendered sacrifices during the Pakistan Movement but they are still deprived of their fundamental rights and are facing discriminatory laws.
Addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club, members of Minorities Coverage Foundation including Emanuel Gulzar, Pastor Chaman, Sardar Mohn Singh, Lal Bhagat Khokhar, Tariq Masih Mughal, Rizwan Masih Khokhar, Dr Amjad, Donald Joseph and others demanded that non-Muslims should be awarded the dual franchise.
They lamented that under the current system, seats reserved for minorities become a tool for victorious parties to pick ‘yes-men’ who are not their true representatives. The current system also does not allow minorities to contest for the right to represent minorities, they said.
“There is a no link between those who occupy those seats in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies and those who are active members of the community and have real roots among the minorities in the country,” said Emanuel Gulzar.
Gulzar demanded that they want a joint electorate, where minorities are allowed to vote for Member National Assembly (MNA) and Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) that will represent their physical constituency, and a system where the occupying the reserved seats are directly elected by the country’s non-Muslims. He urged the government to bring an end to discriminatory laws to encourage the minorities in mainstream politics and give them level-playing filed at par with their Muslim candidates.
Emanuel Gulzar said that members of minorities communities are loyal to Pakistan through the core of their heart and they should not be neglected. He cited references from speeches of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad for giving due rights to minorities for the progress and prosperity of the country. He hoped that the government will review the existing discriminatory law to encourage minorities.