ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: A Consultative Meeting will be held on “Electoral Reforms for a Meaningful Political Representation of Minorities” in Islamabad on Tuesday under the patronage of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).
The representation of minorities in the elected houses has been subject of great discussion and as well as experiments in past 50 years. In the 70s the representatives of minorities were chosen by respective houses in the province as well as the national assembly. In the early 80s the local government started to elect representatives through separate electorate which was apartheid mode of electorate.
Hence, religious communities could not vote beyond their religious identity so the candidates were enlisted and voted for on the basis of religion which created apartheid in the political system between the religious communities. This was done away with after a long struggle for joint electorate in 2002.
Since 2002 the proportional representation has been instituted through the constitution and political parties nominate minority representatives on the reserved seats as well as for women.
It has been a matter of debate as to how this mode of electorate can be improved. The Election Commission of Pakistan is also seeking recommendations, therefore, The Centre for Social Justice as one of the stakeholders has been advocating the following demands:
- The representatives on reserved seats should be elected through intra party elections which will make priority list or the nominations of the minority representatives as well as others categories of reserved seats more representative and effective.
- CSJ has been recommending that the scope of representation of technocrats in the provincial and in national assembly should be increased. It has been observed the cabinets have to incorporate members from non-elected people. It is because there are not enough expertise from the different walks of life to run the different ministries as t sometimes important as finance ministry. So these incorporations become inevitable.
The scope of technocrats should be increased and substationally (30 to 40 percent of total) which we hope that it will help increasing the value of reserved seats.
With these recommendations, CSJ is proposing a consultative meeting on May 10th in Islamabad to incorporate and finalize a set of recommendations for the electoral reforms in Pakistan from the like-minded CSOs.
However, we are strongly oppose to any mode of electorate which will deepen the religious divide or create identity crises as Pakistani for the minorities. We are also convinced that any scheme of making minority constituencies on the basis of religion will be detrimental to the politics and interest of minorities.