Rawalpindi : Religious minorities in Pakistan might not be able to directly elect a member of their communities for the national or provincial assemblies, they were, however, seen taking active part in the 2018 general elections.
Even a few days to the polls, one could see serious discussions being held among them on who they thought would or could be the correct choice for them. However, those debates could not have a clear winner with votes on most occasions remaining spilt among the Pakistan Muslim League-N, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Pakistan’s Peoples Party.
The same also seemed to reflect in Wednesday’s elections. It was hard to tell who the minority community was favouring.
Kanhaiya Lal Rajput, the vice president of the Pakistan Hindu-Sikh Social Welfare Council, rightly pointed out that the opinion did not weigh decisively on any side. “You see, one cannot be certain about it,” he said. “It has been seen that it depends on areas. Areas with PML-N in power, our people will go with PML-N while areas in which PTI is strong, they will follow Imran Khan.”
The council’s president Sardar Heera Lal said although they are living very happily as citizens of the country, they would prefer electing their own representatives rather than letting the political parties decide.
Voting for the party or the candidate of their liking was so varied that it can be judged from the fact that real brothers Ambrose Joseph and Barnabas Joseph voted for two different political parties on Wednesday.
They might have voted for different candidates, but they completely agreed on what they expected from the next government. “We want to be treated equally by the society,” Ambrose Joseph said. “There should be no discrimination whatsoever as laws of the country treat us equally.”
He said there was a law passed for a five per cent job quota for the minority community and it should be implemented in letter and spirit “so that our youth can also make a positive contribution towards the prosperity of Pakistan”.
A man in his early 20s who requested not to be named said the youngsters of the religious minority community did not lack in anything and were as loyal to the country as their Muslim brothers. “We also want to see Pakistan prosper in all fields,” he said. “Please do not look down upon us as if we are second grade citizens. We are also as much Pakistanis as our Muslim countrymen.
“I wish the laws for the protection of the rights of the minorities are strictly implemented. If they feel secure here, no one will even think of migrating to another country.”
All of the voters from the minority community hoped and prayed for a new beginning for Pakistan. “Whoever wins the elections, whoever makes the next government, we hope it is for the good of the country,” said a Christian youth who voted for the first time.