CNI. Gujranwala. Christmas 2001 was expected to be "gloomy" for Pakistani Christians after "terrorist attack" on Christian worshipers on 28th October 2001. Yet Christmas 2001 was celebrated in usual way without any fear. Yet Christmas 2002 for Pakist
The Church leadership, eager to join the "main stream" of Pakistan Political System and to get equal status with the Muslim majority. Our identity as Pakistani Christian was finished and we became "None Muslim Pakistanis". What happened after becoming "None Muslim Pakistanis" the politicized church leadership failed to anticipate. They were over confident that the national political parties will welcome Christians in their respective political parties and more Christian will be elected at national and provincial level. On 9th March 2002 while addressing the combined session of the churches of the "Society of Biblical Christian Churches of Pakistan" (SBCCP), the former Federal Minister for Minority Affairs stated that with the introduction of "Joint Electorate System" Christians will get at least 50 seats in National Assembly. Yet in August 2002, only 10 "None-Muslim" Reserved Seats were announced by the government and nearly 20 seats in Provincial Assemblies.
To our horror, the None Muslims were not to be elected directly. First of all no big or small political party in Pakistan offered a single ticket to any Christian, and then no Christian was elected direct vote on general seat. The None Muslim seats of National and Provincial assemblies were allocated to winning political parties according to the rule of "proportional representation". A good number of Christian candidates had applied to the political parties of their choice. They list was prepared by the political parties according to their own priorities. The priority was based on the amount of money that each Christian candidate could pay. Reportedly, Rupees Two to Five million for National and at least One million for Provincial assembly were paid to the political parties to get "elected".
Therefore no Christian has been elected at any level by Muslims of Christians or to be more realistic, by the Muslim or None Muslim Pakistanis. There was an "auction" for the Christian representation at national and provincial level. The "highest bidders" got the so-called representation. The world has seen the process of transfer of power. The Federal Government is on a dangerously fragile edge.
In Punjab and N. W. F. P we have stable provincial governments but in Baluchistan political parties with "180 degree out agenda" have an unstable coalition. The Sindh situation is expected to be the same. In all bargaining or dialogue between PML(Q), MMAP and PPPP, no Christian had any role to play. They had to vote for the party from which they purchased their representation. Had the Christians been elected on their own, or under Separate Electorate System, their Four votes would have had a lot of value.
In present situation, they would have been the decisive factor in formation of the government. The chance to get at least Four ministries had been let go for the sake of "drowning in to the main stream" of our political system and to become "equally class one" citizens. In must be remembered that Five out of Ten PPPP members of "forward block" of Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians, with another "P" the Patriots and PPP (Sherpao) got Five important ministries in Jamali's cabinet. Ironically all of them are reportedly either convicted for corruption charges or they are still under trial. One of them faces charges of "murder".
Now when we look around, no Christian member of National or Provincial Assembly has any chance to get any kind of favor or importance in present political scenario in Pakistan. In this situation, what can the Christian community expect from the Christian representation? Nothing. In so-called Military Dictatorship, during the past three years, we had at least "One" minister at Federal level, now we do not expect this "privilege" that was given to us by a military ruler or "right" that we have in "civil democracy".
The Pakistani Christians have been mercilessly and deliberately ignored by our national political parties and their leaders. Thanks to the politicized Church leadership. At the moment there is complete silence from the Church leadership in Pakistan. They have achieved their goal to harm Christians by uprooting and destroying their political status for their vicious greed of political power that might make them "absolute masters" of the destiny of the Christians in Pakistan. The "Blunder of 2002" is showing its result now. We the Christians of Pakistan have "No Voice and No Choice" on any national forum. In the eagerness of becoming "First Class Citizens" the "short sighted" Church leadership has made us "third class citizens" if we still retain any identity in Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In this scenario there is a gloom at Christmas time. In year 2001 some unknown terrorists killed 18 Christians. In year 2002, the "religious terrorists" (Church leadership) has buried us alive with our identity as Pakistani Christians. Yet who cares? It is very well known that the Church leadership will migrate to the Western countries and common Christians will face all the anticipated miseries that are yet to come. We wait for a gloomy Christmas!
Bishop Timotheus Nasir
Presbyterian Bishop of Pakistan,
The United Presbyterian Church of Pakistan.