- Posted June 26, 2013 by
"ELECTION ON RESERVED SEATS WITHIN JOINT ELECTORATE SYSTEM OF PAKISTAN."
Let us look at the selection system for reserved seats in our parliament. It is common knowledge that various political parties compete for 272 seats in the general elections. The proportion of each party’s win determines each party’s sharein the privilege of selecting the women and religious minority members to the remaining 70 seats.
This design contains several intrinsic ills and problems:
1. Subservient Parliamentarians: Parliamentarians on reserved seats have their loyalties to the nominating political parties and not to the voters, because voters never participate in their election process. When their constituents approach them on issues of concern, they are told outright, “You did not vote for me, why you are bringing this problem to me?” With extenuated vote power, both the women and religious minority parliamentarians are there to obey the “master’s voice,” that is, the dominant political parties.
2. Blackmailing and other corrupt practices are the norm: The highest bidder may get the seat, the seat may be given to a relative or friend as pay off for a favor, or, more forebodingly, some women ensure their seats by becoming mistresses or girlfriends to the stake holders. Undated and notarized resignations are often obtained in advance to solicit ‘loyalties by coercion and blackmailing.’ I have witnessed all of these instances of corruption during my work in the office of the late Shahbaz Bhatti, the federal minister for minorities,
3. Unfair Distribution of Seats: There are 10 reserved seats allotted to religious minorities. Although Christians are the largest minority, they only occupy 2 seats; Hindus hold the other 8 seats. In the upper house, the Senate, there are 4 reserved seats for religious minorities: A Christian was selected for one seat and Hindus for the remaining three seats. This ‘constitutional flip’ should have raised a red flag for ‘suo moto action’ by the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
4. Flunked out Candidates: The beneficiaries of the reserved seats are given the impression upfront that they wouldn’t have won a general election, hence tagging them with failure in the absence of empirical results. What would one say if a student is given a label of “failure” before he or she ever starts school or takes an exam?
I assert that if we continue to fill the minority and female seats under the present selection system; the minority-majority gap and the gender gap will remain there even after another century, because we are not encouraging our weak, less privileged, deprived, and oppressed class of population to have courage and confidence to participate in the general elections with self-esteem. In fact, the selection system kills the very purpose of inclusion of women and minorities in the parliament. It is a shame and an insult to the intelligence of seventy parliamentarians that Pakistan is the only country where 20% (70 out of 342) of its parliamentarians are chosen without a single vote.
Solution to Problem:
"ELECTION ON RESERVED SEATS WITHIN JOINT ELECTORATE SYSTEM OF PAKISTAN." Women, minorities, majority all must contest side by side. The toppers in election should fill the reserved seats.
Salma Peter John & Mr. Victor V Gill of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania