In the wake of recent local bodies Elections, Christian political parties and various political out-fits from other religious minorities have boycotted the elections.
The Separate Electoral system fro religious minorities implemented during the Zia-ul-Haq regime got knocked over in 2002. Instead of a Separate Electorate, a Joint Electorate System for the religious minorities was introduced in the country. Under this joint electorate system, the religious minorities were deprived the right to vote for their representatives.
Under this new selection system, the representatives of the religious minorities would be selected by the winning political party, which completely deprived the religious minorities their right to select representatives of their own choice. Consequently, the selection system for 10 seats reserved for religious minorities out of a total seats of 342 in the National Assembly are filled by the winning political party.
This selection system has far and wide unacceptable for the religious minorities in the country. Protests were staged, voices were raised and appeals were made to revert to the former separate electoral system.
Pakistan Christian Alliance, which is formed of at least 20 Christian political parties and organisations have sternly boycotted the recent local bodies’ elections. These Christian organisations and political parties united under the banner of “Pakistan Christian Alliance” staged a protest against the controversial law which reinforces the selection system for minorities.
Similar to the general elections, in the local bodies’ elections the Christian candidates representing Christian community participate either by means of the standard Muslim parties or as independent candidates. It is only because of this reason that voters in two of the Christian majority regions UC-245 and UC-246 falling under PML-N’s Shahbaz Sharif’s constituency preferred to vote for independent candidates.
Moreover, the Christians of UC-246 (Youhanabad) particularly expressed feelings of being marginalised or being left alone after Punjab Police executed unruly tortured more than 250 Christians who apparently were not in any means involved in the lynching incident following two bomb blasts in local churches in March.
Seeing the boycott by the Christian political parties, the Ahmadiyya community announced a total boycott of the elections. Voters from the Ahmadiyya community did not participate in the elections at all. Previously, the Amhadiyya community also refused to participate in the election in 2002, 2008 and 2013. They claim that there are boxes that need to be ticked by ‘Muslims’, ‘Christians’, ‘Hindus’, ‘Sikhs’, ‘Parsis’ and other religious communities, there is an entirely separate voters list for Ahmadis.
A press release issued by Jamaat Ahmadiyya states, “Election Commission has specially added a column of religion in the voters registration form. Ahmadis have to sign a declaration showing their disconnection with the Holy Prophet (PBUH) for registering themselves as a voter in it and an Ahmadi cannot even think of such disconnection.”