Christian demand Separate Electorate system and challenge government to hold referendum on Joint Electorate. By Dr. Nazir S Bhatti
|Still there is time of repentance for so-called Christian leaders like Shahbaz Bhatti, Joseph Francis, Cecil Chowdry and other tools of Muslims along with Bishops Conference of Pakistan and Justice and Peace Commission to withdraw demand of Joint Ele
|The May 12, 2004, by-Elections of National Assembly in Karachi under joint electorate have swallowed four precious Christian lives by target killing as punishment by political sponsored terrorism. The Christians never witnessed such election violence during separate elections which was termed by these elements as root cause of apartheid in Pakistan society. In fact demand of Joint Electorate was an attempt of them in collaboration with Muslim feudal lords and privileged class to hijack Christian vote bank to enable them to keep control over poor masses of Pakistan.
The incidents of persecution of Christian community have escalated after imposition of joint elections by government of Pakistan since 2002. The priests have been gunned downed, Pastors have been brutally murdered, Christian women have been raped, elders have been harassed, churches have been desecrated, worshipers have been martyred, hospitals and schools have been attacked but no motion have been presented in National Assembly of Pakistan by the adopted Christian representatives on reserved seats by the Muslim political parties under joint election system. Whereas Christian representatives elected by Christian votes under Separate election raised voice in house on every incident of human rights violation of Christians in Pakistan. It’s on record that Christian parliamentarians elected under Separated elections utilized government allocated yearly development funds on construction of worship places in far flung areas of Pakistan in more numbers than foreign missionaries and non government organizations have built in 100 years services. The construction of roads, streets walks, drainage system and electric facilities changed the shape of Christian slum areas from 1985 to 2000 during practice of separate elections in Pakistan. The Christian youth enjoyed equal rights to secure jobs of 16 grades in government and semi government establishments on Christian representative quota of jobs and Christian students got admissions in medical colleges, engineering colleges and other higher academic institutions. More over the Christians elected under separate elections read Holy Bible in House and offered prayers before expressing Christian issues to witness Lord Jesus among Muslim law makers in Pakistan. What Joint election has given us? Nothing! House of parliament is silent on Christian victimization now! The Christian parliamentarians in house selected by majority political parties have no courage to speak in house without permission of their Muslim party leaders! The Joint elections have prevailed complete silence in house, no development budget, no jobs and no seats in professional colleges!
These so called anti-Christian leaders whenever availed any opportunity to speak on national and international forums they only raised voice against separate elections. They tried to prove that blasphemy laws and all other discriminatory laws implemented on minorities are due to practice of Separate electorate in Pakistan. They also never hesitated to say that separate elections have made Christians to be second class citizens in Pakistan but they lied! They misled international community on separate election issue! They never dared to speak truth and against provisions of Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan of 1973 which declare Christian a second or third class citizen such as:
Articles 41 (2), that an adult Muslim can only hold office of President of Pakistan.
Article 51(A), a total denial on representation proportional to population of minorities on allocation of seats in national assembly of Pakistan when house of 342 seats unjustified with classification of 272 general seats for Muslim men and women, 60 reserved seats for only Muslim women and only 10 seats for Christians, Hindus, Ahmedi Muslims and other religious minorities.
Article 203(D), to bar Christian advocates to plead in Federal Shariat Courts of Pakistan.
Article 42, a schedule of Oath of President of Pakistan to declare him a Muslim.
Article 91(4), a schedule of Oath for Prime Minster of Pakistan to declare himself a Muslim.
Article 227, Islamic Provisions in Constitution.
These articles of constitution made Christians to be second class citizens in Pakistan and moreover:
Â· The adoption of Objective Resolution as preamble of Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan of 1973 by president order no 14 of 1985 is clear declaration that Pakistan is a state of only Muslims which confirms Christians to be second class citizens.
These ill fated Christian leaders issued welcome statements and arranged prayers when on January 16, 2002, Martial Law Administrator General Pervaiz Mushraff abolished Separate Electorate and introduced Joint Electorate for minorities and claimed it a fulfillment of minorities demand in Pakistan. We want to clarify that general Christians never demanded Joint Election but only few Christians who were rejected by Christian voters in separate elections. These opportunist leaders supported substandard government ordinance of 2002 on revival of joint electorate because government allowed Separate Electorate in Union Councils, Town Committees and City Governments to elect Christian representatives by Christian votes while Joint Electorate was imposed in Parliament elections where Christians have to cast votes for Muslim candidates in Provincial Assemblies and National Assembly seats and Muslim Political parties have to select and nominate minority candidates of their choice on reserved seats in parliament. This joint electorate is a total denial of universal adult franchise and can not be counted true democratic.
Let’s view the situation of General Christians in Pakistan! The Christians are 13% of total population of Pakistan. They are living under poverty line in rural areas working on agricultural lands of Muslim Land Lords and in urban areas as sanitary workers in municipal corporations. The Muslims majority hates to eat and drink with Christians and treats them as untouchables. The poor Christians have bitter experiences of voting against instructions of land lords during Joint elections from 1956 to 1985. The cattle of Christians were stopped to feed on fields of Muslim lands lords, grain sale was refused to Christian families to forced to starvation and social boycott was observed after elections as punishment on voting against influential Muslim feudal lords directives. The worst incident of rape and disrespect of women and Christians elders are also on record in rural and urban areas through out Pakistan after every election of Local Bodies and Parliament under joint elections. The general Christian has enjoyed Separate Elections since 1947, until abandoned in ‘Constitution of Pakistan” of 1956. Therefore it remained an outstanding demand of Christians to revive Separate Elections system for minorities for decades until it was re-enforced on January 10, 1985
When we discuss election system for minorities in Pakistan we find practice of Joint elections and Separate elections from time to time after independence of Pakistan in 1947. Apart from these election procedures the dual voting system is also allowed for Kashmiri Muslims. To define the joint elections it means elections when Christians and other religious minorities vote for Muslim candidates in their respective constituencies of national assembly and provincial assemblies and Muslims political parties adopt and nominate Christians on reserved seats in parliament under Seventh Amendment of 2003 in Constitution of Islamic republic of Pakistan.
The Separate elections are elections when minorities elect their representatives by their votes on reserved seats for them in parliament under Eighth Amendment in Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan of 1985.
The 60 women seats are also reserved in parliament but minority women have no right of nomination on those seats nor any Muslim political party have ever nominated minority women on reserve seats in parliament in joint election whereas minority women have contested on reserve seats for minorities under separate elections.
There is not any specification of Christian’s representation in Senate of Pakistan under Joint and Separate Electorate. The political parties have never nominated any Christian for general seat of Senate of Pakistan as obligation of their vote bank.
There is third election known as Dual Voting system being in operation for Kashmiri Muslims in Pakistan. The Kashmiri Muslims living in Azad Kashmir territory cast their votes for Azad Kashmir Assembly and Kashmiri living in Pakistan elect Kashmir Assembly members on reserve seats from all over Pakistan and also cast votes to elect National Assembly of Pakistan and Provincial Assemblies of Pakistan candidates in their respective constituencies.
To understand the importance of Separate Electorate in Sub-continent of India we come across historic facts that Separate Electorate was introduced by the Morley-Minto Reforms of 1909 duly recognized by the Montagu-Chelmsford Report of 1919 and further extended by the government of India Act of 1935 by British Colonial rule in Sub-continent of India on demand of Indian Muslim minority. The Muslim minority ruled India for more than 200 years under Mughal kingdom but still they apprehended that any electoral system, the Muslim interests were likely to remain unrepresented because of their social and political backwardness compared to Hindus. The delegation of Muslim leaders headed by Agha Khan called upon Lord Minto in October 1906 in Simla and presented memorandum pleading safeguard of Muslim interest under introduction of Separate Elections in India. The Muslims enjoyed separate elections from 1909 to 1946. The Indian National Congress also acceded Separate Electorate to demand of other religious groups under Poona Pact of 1932. The most important part of Separate Electorate introduced by British rulers was contesting elections on general seats as well as reserved seats for Muslims and other religious minorities in Local Bodies and Legislative assemblies.
The founder of Pakistan Quaid E Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah also demanded separate Electorate in his famous fourteen point doctrine in 1929 for minorities. In a meeting of All India Muslim League on March 28, 1929, M A Jinnah confirmed that positive aspect of Separate Electorate have resulted in unity of divided Muslim groups in India. The Christian leaders support to All India Muslim League in Round Table Conferences held in London from 1930 – 1933, forced M A Jinnah to assure minorities social, cultural, political and religious rights freedoms in Pakistan Resolution in 1940. The Christians positive role in Pakistan movement and favor in Boundary Commission only based on the guarantees by founder of Pakistan to safeguard their basic democratic equal rights in Pakistan.
Therefore Muslim majority of Pakistan is fully aware of importance of Separate Electorate because they know its perfect system for due representation and to express prevailing situations of backward communities as they experienced in sub continent of India. They Pakistani Muslim governments are always reluctant to equip Christians of Pakistan with powerful weapon of separate elections in Pakistan because they have witnessed that Separate Elections enabled them in formation of Muslim state of Pakistan and illiterate and inexperienced leaders like Shahbaz Bhatti, Joseph Francis and others are misled and being used by Muslim leaders to snatch separate electorate.
During practice of Separate Electorate Christians also demanded Dual voting rights like Muslims of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan and they still press upon government to give dual voting rights to Christian that they may elect their own representatives and may also vote for Muslim candidates in respective constituencies.
The Christians of Pakistan wish to submit that Joint Elections are not acceptable to them on any level and they strongly protest against implementations of joint elections and demand Dual Voting rights with Separate Electorate. The Christians condemn all provisions of Constitution of Pakistan declaring them second class citizen because they are son of soil and reserve equal rights in resources of Pakistan. The Christians challenge government to hold referendum on joint elections to know true voice of general Christians.
Dr. Nazir S Bhatti