GUJRANWALA.(CNI). July 10. In January 2002, when Joint Electorate System was announced by the government of Pakistan our shortsighted leadership rejoiced for they thought now the Christian community has entered the "mainstream" of national politics.
Today I read my friend Mr. Nazir Bhatti's remarks that the MNAs and MPAs of MMAP should resign over the Shariat Bill passed by MMAP government in North West Frontier Province. Earlier we saw the result of PCP "poll" on the performance of Christian representatives in National and Provincial Assemblies. Sixty Five percent disapproved their role in both National and Provincial Assemblies. I am not surprised at all. I was expecting this situation ever since our "Clergy" started the campaign for Joint Electorate System in early 2000. What happened in year 2002 that our right to elect our own representatives was denied and we were forced to vote for Muslim candidates. I must remind the readers that "ten" reserved seats are not for minorities but for "None Muslim Pakistanis" a term invented in early 2002 were announced latter in August 2002. As anticipated no Christian candidate was given ticket by any political party and no Muslim voter voted for any Christian or None Muslim Pakistani. The Christian candidates filed their nomination papers for reserved seats through main political parties. After October 10th General Elections, first women got their representation for the seats that were reserved for them (Sixty) on party position in National and Provincial Assemblies. And lastly the None Muslim Pakistanis got their seats according to party position. Thus no Christian had any role in election or let me use better word, "selection" of Christian MNAs and MPAs. How these people became members of National and Provincial Assemblies is another sad story. Every political party sold reserved seats. Who so ever paid more money than other was given the reserved seats. According to some sources a lady paid 2.5 Million Rupees for her seat in Provincial Assembly. The Christian candidates were given number 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on according to the amount of money they paid to the political party of their choice. This is how Christian representatives became our representatives. Now the question is that when they are not elected by our direct vote, why should they care for us? They paid for the representation and they need to earn back that money they invested on their selection and they have every right to get interest on their investment. Why should they resign without making money? Why should they speak, they are not there to speak for us but for their parties. In June 2003, I received a "Press Release" by an MMAP Christian MNA. The press release said that the Church leaders have read the "Shariat Bill" and they have no objection to it. When those Church leaders were contacted, they openly refuted the claim of the Christian MNA in national press. Therefore let the Christians forget their so-called representatives in national or Provincial assemblies. Period.
Now let us see what we have lost by accepting Joint Electorate System. If we the Christians had our own independent candidates, duly elected by our votes, they could play the role of power brokers in National Assembly. Only Four votes could make them more important that Dr. Tahir Ul Qadri. They could ask and get more than one ministry in the Federal Cabinet. We let go this chance. They could demand representation in Senate and get it, we lost another chance. Christian MNAs if not MPAs could get more privileges and rights for their Christian voters, we lost this chance too. With the introduction of Joint Electorate System we lost every thing even our identity. In Separate Electorate System the Christian minority would have been in a far better position to bargain for the welfare of Christian community, especially in present political situation. Yet our politicized Church leadership in its eagerness to enter the "mainstream political system" or "Qaumi Dhara" has drowned the Christian community in this so-called "mainstream". Today we are no where. We are not in "mainstream" and we are not in any "Qaumi Dhara". Our own stream has been filled by the ill will of our leaders. This stream is dry full of sand and stones. Common Christian does not know who is his representative and the representatives do not know whom they represent. It is about time that the Christian political leadership should start demanding Separate Electoral System so that we may find a way and direction to prosperity and better future in Mullah's dominated society. Only today a Senior Minister of N. W. F. P Mr. Siraj-ul-Haq said, "all who oppose Shariat Bill should leave Pakistan". I would like to leave Pakistan but where to? I have no wish to live under Mullah's rule. Yet I can not leave all those people whom Lord God has given in my care at the mercy of our "useless representatives". They resign or not, we are not going to be benefited in any way. Therefore I would not ask them to resign but to make money if they can and then take a flight home.
Bishop Timotheus Nasir