PESHAWAR: Major political parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have ignored Christians, the largest minority community in the province, in selection of their candidates for the reserved seats of national and provincial assemblies, as most of them preferred Hindus or Sikhs in their priority lists submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The indifferent attitude of the political parties could force the Christian voters to stay away from the 2018 general elections.
“We are seriously contemplating to announce complete boycott of the general election and our community people will not cast their votes in support of respective parties’ candidates,” former PML-N MPA Fredrick Azeem told Dawn on Saturday.
He said that all the political parties had ignored the largest minority community having over 200,000 population in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which would badly affect the missionary institutions in the province. “Our pastors are also worried about attitude of the political parties as to why Christians have been left out,” the former lawmaker said.
Ex-MPA Fredrick Azeem says they are considering boycott of elections
He said that the Christian community had held protest demonstrations to record their reservations, adding that they were not against other communities, but they numbered a few thousands compared to Christian population. He said that six of the political parties in Punjab had nominated Christians in the priority lists, but the situation in KP was quite different.
According to the documents submitted to ECP, Pakistan Peoples Party has proposed Naseeb Chand on top of the list and Diya Ram and Christian Jameel Masih as second and third choice.
Similarly, PML-N has prioritised Sarish Kumar on top of the nominees list with Shakeel Chander and Ms Nighat Bibi as its second and third choice.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has nominated Ravi Kumar and Wazir Zada. Mr Kumar has worked as coordinator with former CM Pervez Khattak for minority rights.
In 2013, JUI-F nominated Askar Pervez and PML-N had selected Fredrick Azeem as its MPA on the reserved seats. However, a newly-established Pakistan Rah-i-Haq Party has nominated Arif Masih on top of its priority list.
The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal has nominated Ranjeet Singh as its first choice and Farid Chand Singh on third position. The Awami National Party has nominated Amarjeet Singh as first priority and Ashook Kumar second.
The members of Christian community belonging to PPP and PTI have also raised voice against their leaders and said that the nominations had been announced in violation of merit.
Talking to this correspondent, PPP minority wing Peshawar leader Shehzad Iqbal said that Christians had been ignored in the priority list.
“We have vast population compared to other non-Muslim groups, but despite that our people have been ignored by the PPP leadership,” he said and added that his people had also held protest demonstrations to convey their reservations to the leadership.
He suggested that the PPP leadership should support Ms Saima Shehzad on the general seat so that grievances of the community could be minimised. “Our community has appealed to the top leadership for redressal of our reservations otherwise taking part in the election will be of no use for our community,” he warned.
Another group belonging to PTI also expressed similar views. “In the priority list the top position has been given to Sikh community and our people have not been considered,” said one Waqas Khokhar, a member of the Peshawar district council.
Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2018