ICC Note: Christians in Pakistan are celebrating a positive court ruling regarding the election of religious minorities to national parliament. The case came about after claims were made that religious minorities were not adequately represented on party lists. This is because those who were put in place to represent minority groups were being selected by the major parties, most of whom are predominantly Muslim.
08/19/15 Pakistan (UCA News) – Pakistan’s religious minorities are hailing what they see as a rare victory after the country’s top court announced a landmark ruling earlier this month on the participation of minority groups in elections.
The court ruled that non-Muslim representatives allotted for reserved seats should be selected through secret ballots conducted among minority groups themselves and not from party lists drawn up through a proportional representation system.
Minorities are currently allowed 10 reserved seats in the national parliament.
The ruling followed a challenge by Julius Salik, founder of the World Minority Alliance party and a former Christian minister, to constitutional amendments made in 2010 concerning seats reserved for minorities.
They claimed minorities were not being properly represented through party lists.
Lawmakers supposedly there to represent minorities were being picked by the major parties — the majority of whose members are Muslim — the complainants said.
Religious minorities feel they have no ability to participate in elections because there is in fact no election at all, they told the court.
The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that this method does not conform to any of the principles of democracy which would allow the minorities to choose their own representatives.
“Additional seats for minorities are not a matter of grace and benevolence of political parties but are constitutional requirements so that the legitimate interests of the minorities are provided for,” the court said.