A leading church official in Pakistan called for increased minority representation in the electoral process as the country stands at the height of crucial general elections.
In an interview with AsiaNews, Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad, president of the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan, expressed concern about the representation of the Christian community.
“Due to the way the electoral system works, even the parliamentarians who are supposed to represent minorities are chosen by the political parties and not by the community,” said the prelate.
Bishop Shukardin lauded the Pakistan People’s Party for nominating Christian candidate Naeem Gill in the Warispura constituency of Faisalabad.
He said other political parties must follow a similar path, “nominating Christians who can actively vie for general seats and contribute meaningfully in the legislative Chambers.”
Bishop Shukardin proposed the formation of a national movement for Christians to ensure their interests are represented in the political arena.
He suggested that Christians should have the opportunity to cast a double vote – one for their chosen party and another for Christian candidates in their constituencies.
“We need good candidates who can serve our community. Already today in at least 20 constituencies in the country Christian voters are a significant number, and we could win general seats, but everything is left to the choice of each party,” he said.
The prelate expressed hopes for “economic stability” to alleviate the growing number of Pakistanis suffering from poverty.
He also recognized the role of women “at all levels,” saying that without their contribution, “we cannot become a better country… we cannot expect a better economic future”.
“Today I pray and hope that tomorrow’s elections will be peaceful. We should all accept each other and respect each other’s differences,” he said.
The situation remains tense as Pakistan approaches a critical juncture in its democratic process, with the hope that the elections will pave the way for a more stable and inclusive future.
The eve of the elections was marred by serious violence, with two attacks in Pishin and Qila Saifullah, both in the province of Baluchistan, resulting in 28 casualties and at least 40 injuries.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, currently in prison, added to the charged environment by spreading a pre-recorded message to his followers, urging them to participate in the elections.