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ICC Note: Following Pakistan’s national elections, Pakistani Christians are calling for the right to elect their own leaders. In the current system, reserved Christian posts are filled by political parties selecting Christian individuals to serve. This process of selection has caused many Christians to feel that they are not represented in government as the Christians in government hold more loyalty to political parties than the Christian community.

08/01/2018 Pakistan (The Nation) – On the outskirts of the city this area gives the typical look of a ghetto. Dust can be seen rising from the streets, sewers spewing out smelly water and the water from taps tastes and smells bad.

This is Youhanabad where majority of people living are Christians. This area made headlines when suicide attacks on two churches on March 15, 2015 killed 17 people. In the aftermath the rioting Christians burnt a Muslim man. 40 of these Christians are languishing in jails. The fault lies in the leadership as none of the representatives in the parliament dared to enter the area since they had not been voted by the community for election but selected by the political parties.

“There are about 35,000 Christian voters in our constituency PA 169 while there are about 80,000 Christian voters in our NA 134 constituency. Many Christian candidates applied for ticket from the mainstream parties but none managed to get,” Kashif Nawab, Director of Social Action Transformation of Humanity, said while talking to The Nation. He added that had any mainstream party given a ticket to any minority candidate, he/she may have won easily with party and community support.

He said there was no basic health unit nor any public sector school in the area. “It is the most neglected area of Lahore,” Kashif was of the view.

Dr. Ramesh Kumar served as MNA for five years after his selection by the PML-N. Some months ago he joined PTI. He said he was in favor of election and not selection. “My community wants to be given double vote. Besides participating in election of the candidates from their areas they also want to elect their own representatives.

“Four times I moved the bill for giving minorities their right to elect their representatives. It was referred to the committee and then the matter was rejected or adjourned. Imran Khan has promised me that this time the bill will be taken up seriously. He has also promised that the next chairman of Evacuee Property Trust would be a Hindu. The number of minorities’ seats should also be increased as per the new census results. New constituencies for minorities can easily be made,” Dr. Ramesh said.

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