HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Forum on Minority Issues
Geneva, 12-13 November 2009
Item n°4 : Conditions required for effective political participation
Oral Satement :
Thank you Chairperson.
Dominicans for Justice and Peace (Order of Preachers) would like to highlight the conditions required for the effective political participation of minorities in Pakistan.
Article 25 of the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan speaks about the equality of all the citizens where as article 36 provides safeguard for the promotion and protection of political rights. Nevertheless, under article 41.2 certain minority groups are not allowed to hold certain public offices such as Presidency, Prime minister and provincial governors, which is a clear example of a political discrimination.
Few years ago, the separate electorate system was being practiced for the minorities, excluding them from the mainstream politics. Under the recent system of proportionate election 10 reserved seats are distributed among the political parties which nominate the minority members on the reserved seats.
The overall environment of the country is not conducive for the minorities to take an active part in the politics because of social, cultural and constitutional/legal dynamics. However, we would like to appreciate the symbolic steps taken by the present democratic government to increase the political participation of minorities in Pakistan. In this connection, we would like to mention the few steps initiated by the government of Pakistan such as célébration of national minority day on August 11th allocation of 5% quota for the minorities in jobs & welfare/developmental schemes for the minorities. However, there is great need on the part of the state to take concrete and visible mesures to encourage the participation of minorities in political and public life. In this regard, we would like to make the following recommendations:
1) An independent national minority rights commission should be established having powers of a tribunal, under the Paris principals, to look at participation of minorities in all spheres of national life, including political participation.
2) An independent research should be conducted with the help of international experts to determine causes of socio-political reasons of insufficient participation of minorities in political life of Pakistan.
3) Constitutional and legal discrimination in the name of religion should be abolished by repealing discriminatory provisions such as articles, 2, A and B, 41 of the Constitution which make them less preferred citizen and bear minorities from holding certain public offices such as Presidency, Prime minister and provincial Governors etc.
4) The number of representatives of minorities in Senate, National Assembly, and in four provincial Assemblies should be doubled than their size of population for the effective participation in the legislative affairs of the government. In this regard, there should be reservation of seats for minority members in Senate as well.
5) The present system of proportionate election must be reformed according to the needs of minority communities; along with reserved seats the political parties should be encouraged to nominate at least 10% of their members on general seat from the minority communities.
6) The minorities should be given more share in federal and provincial cabinets of important ministries, parliamentary committees, and administrative commissions so that their participation may increase by their visibility and role in national affairs at large.
7) Concise and desegregated statistical data on minorities in public and political sectors be organized and released, so that their actual position in political and public sectors may be determined.
8) Minorities should be aware & encouraged to use the national and international légal mechanisms extensively to promote, protect, and ensure the rights of their community.
9) Pakistan should ratify as soon as possible the ICCPR.
10) The state should adopt comprehensive law to combat all forms of discrimination as suggested in paragraph 11 of concluding observations of UN Committee against the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
11) The government of Pakistan should invite Independent expert on minorities to review the state of human rights of religious, ethnic, and linguistic minorities.
Thank you Chairperson.
Dr. Sabir Michael, Lay o.p.