Wild Card Entry: Perks of joint electorate system

A time when slogans of “dignity of vote” are being echoed all around and numerous intellectuals and scholars are trying to teach us the value of vote and its majesty. A time when we are being taught that worst democracy is better than best dictatorship. A time when political parties’ activists are seen defending their respective leaders on social media platform.

A time when one can observe and feel a strong bond between voters and their political leaders. There is a specific segment of society who lacks such privileges because their representatives don’t need their votes to acquire seat in provincial and national assembly.


In early 1980s, during Zia Ul Haq’s regime, minorities could vote only to elect their own representatives and they were not allowed to vote any Muslim candidates. Later, during the government of president Musharraf, minorities were given right to vote to Muslim candidates, but the seats for minorities were made reserved just like reserved-seats for women.


The representatives of this specific segment of the society just have to prove their loyalty to their political parties and in return the party will reward them with a “wild card entry” through which they can acquire seats in assemblies. Therefore, these ‘representatives’ do not bother to establish relationship with those whose representatives they are, let alone raising voice for them and being concerned about their rights and prosperity.

You might have get an idea about which segment of society I am referring to. If not, then let me give you another hint. This segment of society comprises approximately 3.66 percent of total population. These statistics might not be much accurate as the results of latest census, conducted in 2017, has not been made public yet. And If you are not aware about their total number of population, you probably wouldn’t care about their sufferings as well. Yes, it’s the religious minorities of the country.

There are a total of 342 seats in the National Assembly. Of these, 272 are filled by direct elections. In addition, the Pakistani Constitution reserves 10 seats for religious minorities and 60 seats for women. As per constitution of Pakistan, the religious minorities can contest elections on general seats and they can also vote to Muslim candidates on general seats, but they cannot elect minority parliamentarians, which are supposed to represent them in the assemblies.

In early 1980s, during Zia Ul Haq’s regime, minorities could vote only to elect their own representatives and they were not allowed to vote any Muslim candidates. Later, during the government of president Musharraf, minorities were given right to vote to Muslim candidates, but the seats for minorities were made reserved just like reserved-seats for women.

This is a sheer violation of rights of religious minorities and the root cause of hardships being faced by the minorities as they don’t have right to vote to elect their own representatives.

You will never see non-Muslim lawmakers and the NGOs – working for the rights of minorities – raising voice against it at any platform. They will never put forward this demand as their nexus is limited to their personal benefits. So, who will address this severe grievance of minorities? How will enable the minorities to choose their representatives? Indeed, this responsibility lies on the government. Let’s hope the government will play its due role in this regard.

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