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‘Minorities treated unfairly in polls’

Updated October 10, 2013

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“Many reports of malpractices have been filed by the candidates belonging to minority communities at the election commission, but not much has been done for them,” HRCP Director I A Rehman said during the launch ceremony of a report titled, ‘Religious minorities in elections – equal in law not in practice’. — File Photo by Sara Faruqi/ Dawn.com
“Many reports of malpractices have been filed by the candidates belonging to minority communities at the election commission, but not much has been done for them,” HRCP Director I A Rehman said during the launch ceremony of a report titled, ‘Religious minorities in elections – equal in law not in practice’. — File Photo by Sara Faruqi/ Dawn.com

ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Wednesday criticised the Election Commission of Pakistan for not being fair with the issues faced by the minority voters and candidates.

HRCP Director I. A. Rehman, launching the report titled, ‘Religious minorities in elections – equal in law not in practice’ said that extra efforts needed to be made by the political parties and the system to enhance the participation of minorities in election process.

“Many reports of malpractices have been filed by the candidates belonging to minority communities at the election commission, but not much has been done for them,” Mr Rehman added.

While lauding the joint electoral system, he said that the political parties still have to show maturity and field more candidates at general seats, “This has not done even in constituencies where the minorities are in a sizeable number.’

The report was based on the study of six national assembly constituencies, five in Sindh and one in Punjab.

The report highlights that the voting pattern shows that the minorities have been voting on party lines and not on religious lines.

But he added that there have been reports of prejudice, threats and structural problems faced by the minority members.

“We have reports from certain areas that pamphlets were distributed by religious elements directing people not to vote for the candidate of minority community at general seat,” the Director HRCP added, “But no action has been taken against the persons by the authorities.”

The report also highlights the security problems faced by the candidates of minority communities, but Mr Rehman also added that most of the issues were localised.

“These oppositions were mainly class based and not based on religious grounds” he added and said there are reports that the upper class Hindus do not want to give chance to lower class Hindus to become politically active.

Meanwhile, Hussain Naqi, senior member HRCP said that if the situation has to be change the Election Commission has to be more proactive in this regard.

“They only had one liner policy statement for the minorities and that was - ECP will think about minorities in net five years.”

Mr Naqi also criticised the policy makers of the country for distorting the history and said that the key role played by Christians in establishment of Pakistan has been deleted from the history books.

“The key role by Christians in Punjab to get the province vote in favour of Pakistan has been forgotten – this is bad and it should not happen,” he added.