Bahai News - Pakistanis Condemn Electoral System
Pakistanis Condemn Electoral System
Updated 2:28 PM ET November 19, 2000
By KATHY GANNON, Associated Press Writer
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Members of Pakistan's religious minorities
Sunday condemned an electoral system that separates Muslims from non-Muslims.
Following a daylong meeting involving representatives of several
religious minorities, the Christian Liberation Front of Pakistan issued
a declaration calling the system "religious apartheid."
In Pakistan, where 95 percent of the country's 140 million people are
Muslim, members of minority religions vote not for candidates in their
local district but for a list of minority candidates. The minorities are
given separate seats in the National Assembly, which is the powerful
lawmaking lower house of Parliament.
Minorities have 10 seats in Pakistan's 211-seat parliament, which was
suspended by the army when it seized power in a military coup Oct 12, 1999.
"This religious apartheid has politically and socially ostracized the
religious minorities of Pakistan," said the declaration jointly issued
by Pakistan's Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrian and Bahai communities.
The declaration comes as Pakistan's military-led government prepares
to hold local elections, set to begin Dec. 31. The army has promised to
hold general elections before the end of 2002, in keeping with a Supreme
Pakistan's Human Rights Commission also has been a strong advocate of a
joint electoral system, where one person, one vote determines the
successful candidate in an election.
The country's minority religions have long complained about the separate
electoral system which was instituted nearly 20 years ago.
There was no immediate comment from the military government. Previous
governments in Pakistan have refused to change the system, saying it
gives minorities a voice in the Parliament. The system is strongly
supported by the country's right-wing Islamic parties.
©Copyright 2000, Associated Press
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