PAKISTAN: The government of Pakistan should abolish its self-contradictory franchise system after the passage of the Eighteen Amendment in the constitution 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has strongly and repeatedly drawn the attention of the government of Pakistan to its self-contradicting franchise system which denies the Ahmadis, a Muslim minority sect, the fundamental right to vote. Pakistan takes great pride in claiming to be a democracy. But so far it has failed to ensure that all its subjects are awarded their basic civic rights without any discrimination regarding faith, belief or ethnic origin.

It was expected that the of Pakistan, which was unanimously passed by the parliament, would provide a great opportunity for the government of Pakistan. They could clean up all the disgraceful regulations included in the constitution of Pakistan and revive the 1973 Pakistan constitution to its pristine and pure form.

As reported earlier, even before the last general elections in the country, the Election Commission of Pakistan issued instructions to maintain a separate electoral list system entitled “preparation of separate list of draft electoral rolls for Ahmadis/Qadianis”. This was a follow-up on the Eighth Amendment of the 1973 constitution enacted in 1985 by the military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq. Through his infamous Ordinance XX, he intentionally deprived the Ahmadis of all their freedoms and civic rights. The tragedy is that a special, separate form to register as a voter was introduced. Every applicant had to sign a certificate of faith and deny the veracity of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Of course no Ahmadi would ever agree to do such a thing and therefore, they were de-facto denied their right to vote.

This is a matter that is very alarming. The government and the Election Commission of Pakistan have totally turned a blind eye to this gross defect in their electoral system. They did not grasp the significance that under the constitution of Pakistan every citizen has the right to vote irrespective of their race, religion, creed or belief. Moreover, Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that every citizen shall have the right and opportunity to vote and be elected. Similarly Articles 19 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guaranteed the right to vote to every citizen. This is one of the most basic fundamental rights which must be guaranteed to every citizen and without which a state cannot call itself a democracy.

Since the adoption of the Eighteen Amendment, the media of Pakistan has opened its channels to extremist and fundamentalist mullahs, the Muslim clerics. Even though they are spilling venom against the Ahmadis, it has resulted in the deterioration of the persecution of the Ahmadis in various cities and towns of Pakistan.

Most recently innocent members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan were brutally murdered in cold blood in Faisalabad, Punjab province, and elsewhere in Pakistan.

At present the fundamentalist mullahs are meeting in Pakistan to create a forum to ensure the government of Pakistan retains all the clauses, rules and regulations which target Ahmadis and cripples them religiously, economically and educationally.

The Asian Human Rights Commission once again strongly draws the attention of the authorities in Pakistan to respect democracy in its true spirit and fulfill the fundamental basic rights of its citizens. Particularly the rights of Ahmadis in Pakistan who have been denied every right of freedom and dignity assured by International Conventions and Practices.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-079-2010
Countries : Pakistan,