Pakistani Christian leaders call for right to elect their representatives in the Parliament. During a conference held in Lahore, all of the participants unanimously agreed to demand for their right to elect their representatives in provincial and national assemblies. The conference titled, “Christian Leadership Conference,” was held in Caritas Hall.
The participants of this conference condemned the current procedure of Joint Electorate. They said that this system has been imposed on religious minorities. This conference was attended by leaders from Catholic Church of Pakistan, Christian activists and Implementation of Minority Rights Forum. In a press release, these leaders expressed an ardent desire to stay united and struggle for their rights.
This press release was signed by Archbishop of Lahore Francis Sebastian Shaw, and Chairman of Implementation of Minorities Rights Forum. This conference was presided by prominent Christian leader Julius Salik who is a former Federal Minister for population. At this occasion, Christian educationist Professor Anjum James Paul and Professor Robin Daud also addressed the audience.
The participants of the Christian Leadership Conference unanimously adopted a resolution calling for formation of Minorities Rights Commissions in all the provinces. They had also urged for implementations of the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding religious minorities in the country. They said that the recommendations made by the apex court must be put in effect by the government.
At the same time, they called for all out efforts to end the hate speech which taint the social harmony and interfaith relations between various faiths accommodated within the society.
Religious minorities especially Christians, Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs and others were apportioned 10 seats in the National Assembly of Pakistan. Seats have also been allocated in all the four provincial assemblies. In Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s regime Muslim political parties selected minorities’ representatives in the Parliament, the practice met strong opposition by Christians.
Later on Separate Electorate was introduced during the 1985 elections and was in effect till 1998 elections. In General Musharraf’s rule, the separate electorate system for minorities was reverted to joint electorate system.