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July 30, 2018

Historic win

Editorial

 
July 30, 2018

For the first time in our modern history, a non-Muslim has been elected to the National Assembly on a general seat. This is an important win in a time when extremism is on the rise and violation of the rights of non-Muslims increasingly rampant. Dr. Mahesh Kumar Malani won from NA-222, defeating the GDA, the Allah-o-Akbar Party and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan. Other minority candidates nominated by the PPP also won two provincial seats to the Sindh Assembly. Other parties had also given tickets to minority candidates in Sindh but they were unable to win their seats. Dr Malani has held key responsibilities in Sindh and says he is prepared to take his experience forward into the National Assembly, where he will sit on the opposition benches. He has emphasized that combating extremism and discrimination against minorities will be one of his priorities.

A change in electoral laws in 2002 had effectively ending separate electorates for non-Muslims and permitted non-Muslims to contest on general seats and for Muslims to vote for them. It is quite obvious that they are perfectly willing to do so. We hope to see a time when a Christian candidate will be elected from Punjab and members of other communities from other places. Early this year, Krishna Kumari, a Dalit Hindu woman from Tharpakar, had also been brought into the Senate by the PPP, making her the first woman from her community – discriminated against both on the basis of caste and religion – to reach this office. But the problems for minorities will not be solved by such gestures alone. Far more needs to be done to remove the vast number of problems they face with forced conversions, attacks based around religious belief and the misuse of the blasphemy law against them still not uncommon. The Ahmadi community of Pakistan continues to face the worst security threats. We hope that in this battle to end discrimination against minority communities – both social and legal – Dr Mahesh Malani and the two candidates elected to the Sindh Assembly will meet with at least some degree of success. But for this they need massive support from their Muslim colleagues who must realise we need to move towards a vision of Pakistan within which all communities are united and enjoy equal rights as citizens of the country.