MIRPUR (AJK)

The Pakistan United Christian Movement (PUCM) has rejected the selection of non-Muslim councillors on the proposed reserved seats for minorities in the upcoming local government elections in Punjab.

“The PUCM strongly condemned and rejected the electoral system for non-Muslim councillors in the upcoming Punjab local government elections,” said A David, chairman of the PUCM, while talking to newsmen.

“The amended bill says that non-Muslims will be given representation on reserved seats through indirect elections, David pointed out, adding that the proposed composition of a union council would include elected chairman and vice chairman, six directly-elected members on the basis of adult franchise followed by indirectly elected (selected) non-Muslim and other members on reserved seats by the directly elected members.

“A similar prototype is to be followed for representation of non-Muslims at the District Council and Urban local governments consisting of Metropolitan and Municipal Corporations”, he said, adding that another concerning issue is that only those Union Councils would have no-Muslim member where number of registered non-Muslim voters is 200 or more.

This, David observed, could lead to a situation where a huge number of UCs will have no Non-Muslim representation. In political terms, the local governments are known as nursery of politics where, especially the young or new entrants to politics get trained, learn the art, gain experience and then take bigger strides to play a role at the national level at a later stage, he said.

David maintained that though joint electoral system was introduced to bring non-Muslims into the main stream of politics however we must admit that socially we are still in an evolution phase where it is acceptable to get the votes from non-Muslims however voting for a non-Muslim candidate will take years of political, social and cultural change or in other words development.

The proposed provincial LG electoral system is like the nail in the coffin, politically the non-Muslims are out. Once again the same story will be repeated, people with resources and more importantly contacts with the already “selected” non-Muslim representatives at the national and provincial levels would be selected as representatives at grassroots levels as well. David said that there is an increasing sense of political insecurity among the non-Pakistanis due to the existing electoral system. The PUCM has already sent a detailed letter to the Electoral Reform Committee regarding concerns with suggested reforms. “I am confident majority of the minority will opt for a separate electoral system with the option of dual vote if the government held a referendum to ascertain the wishes of non-Muslims,” he pointed out.

The PUCM chief claimed that separate elections are a popular demand and that they reject the proposed electoral system for non-Muslims in the upcoming the Punjab LG elections. He declared that non-Muslim voters should be given the right to elect their own representatives by their own votes.