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Think Tank Proposes a Shift in Minority Representation in Pakistan

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In Pakistan, the issue of underrepresentation of religious minorities in the political landscape has persisted for decades, hindering their integration into mainstream politics.

Despite constitutional provisions reserving seats for minorities in various assemblies, challenges persist in ensuring their effective participation and influence. This article delves into the historical context, challenges faced by minority communities, and proposes solutions to address the longstanding issue of underrepresentation.

 

Historical Context of Minority Representation:

 

The struggle for minority representation traces back to pre-partition India when the Muslim community sought a separate electorate to safeguard their rights. After Independence, various constitutional amendments attempted to strike a balance, including the introduction of separate electorates under General Ziaul Haq. Subsequent efforts, such as the PPP’s 1996 electoral reforms and Musharraf’s reinstatement of the joint electorate system in 2002, aimed to integrate minorities into mainstream politics.

 

Current Challenges and Grievances:

 

Despite reserved seats in national and provincial assemblies, minority communities argue that the current system hampers their integration. Issues like blasphemy allegations, forced conversions, and attacks on worship places persist, with minorities having insufficient representation to influence policy decisions. The absence of a mechanism for contesting on reserved seats exacerbates the problem, as minority candidates become proxies for political parties rather than directly accountable to their constituents.

 

Proposed Solutions for Enhanced Representation:

 

Increase Representation on General Seats: Advocates for minority rights suggest allocating at least 5% representation on general seats, similar to the 5% quota for women under Section 206 of the Election Act 2017. This would ensure minorities have a direct and accountable role in decision-making processes.

 

Proportional Representation and Merit in Ticket Allocation: The article emphasizes the need for political will and consensus to address issues with proportional representation. Ensuring merit in issuing tickets for reserved seats and awarding general tickets to minorities would contribute to a fairer and more inclusive political landscape.

 

Addressing Historical Imbalances: The historical context of separate electorates and subsequent amendments underscores the need to rectify imbalances. Acknowledging and redressing historical injustices can pave the way for more comprehensive and equitable representation.

 

Democratizing Electoral Processes: The article calls for joint efforts by the next Parliament and all political parties to address the grievances and demands of religious minorities. Democratizing electoral processes for all segments of society is crucial for ensuring equality, a fundamental component of a functioning democracy.

 

Conclusion:

 

As Pakistan evolves as a representative democracy, addressing the underrepresentation of religious minorities is paramount. Historical context, constitutional amendments, and political will play crucial roles in reshaping the political landscape to be more inclusive. By implementing solutions such as increased representation on general seats and ensuring proportional representation, Pakistan can move towards a more equitable and participatory political system. The onus is on the next Parliament and political parties to prioritize the integration of minorities into mainstream politics and address their longstanding grievances.

Wasim Qadri
Wasim Qadrihttp://wasimqadriblog.wordpress.com/
Islamabad based Senior Journalist, TV Show Host, Media Trainer, can be follow on twitter @jaranwaliya

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