Pakistan bishops urge fair voting system for minorities

2017-11-16 Vatican Radio

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan has appealed in a Nov 10 statement  to the government to create a just and fair system for minority candidates before the next general election.

The Bishops’ statement disapproves the political parties making appointments to reserved seats which they say do not represent the community and so they urge the government to create a just and fair system. 

Of the 342 seats in the National Assembly, only 10 are set aside for ethnic and religious minorities. The election is scheduled to be held before Sept. 3, 2018.

According to the bishops the upcoming elections, which will strengthen the democratic process, should be as transparent as ever. To have a stable government the elections are to be free and fair. The Election Commission of Pakistan must be totally independent and impartial they said. 

The bishops demanded "an honest interim government that will bring in fair practices and not interfere with the election campaigns and the voting process."

They also called upon all political parties to address and include issues that concern minorities in Pakistan in order to build a "solid and inclusive democracy."

The Bishop's National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) was instrumental in restoration of the 2002 joint electorate system, under which 2.99 million minority voters elect local representation in the national and provincial assemblies. Muslim political parties then select minority MPs through a proportional representation system.

The 10 representatives of religious and ethnic minorities are often criticized for representing political parties and not their communities and are regarded as token representatives who are excluded from real government decision-making. Christians, who total 2.5 million, are the most outspoken of the religious minorities in Pakistan.(UCAN)

(from Vatican Radio)