ASIA/PAKISTAN - The post-election period: a fragile democracy

Wednesday, 14 February 2024 politics   human rights   religious minorities   elections  

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "The results of the Pakistan federal and provincial elections that took place on February 8 have shown that democracy in Pakistan has a better chance than the grimy political events and dramas of the past 40 years have allowed for. The footprint of the military establishment was much lighter in 2024 than expected with its predicted party of choice, the PML-N lead by Nawaz Sharif until recently in exile in London, getting far less success than the independents who stood carrying the banned banner of Imran Khan, the imprisoned leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, and who gained a clear majority of the elected seats", said Father Robert McCulloch SSC, Australian missionary of Saint Columban, who for more than 30 years has been a missionary in Pakistan and continues to be linked to the country with missionary cooperation projects.
"However - he continues - these independents will not be able to get any of the proportional division of the 70 seats allocated to women and minorities which include Christians, seats divided between the parties, with a percentage calculation", he points out.
This, according to the Australian cleric, will bring "to government on the federal level being a coalition of parties who have been political enemies since the time of the military dictator Zia ul Haq in 1978", namely the Pakistan Muslim League-N and the Pakistan People's Party, which have just announced that they have reached an agreement for a parliamentary and government alliance.
However, "the increasing young voter population in Pakistan indicates a new vote bank that has not been accurately factored into traditional patterns of voting at all levels. There are now serious questions to be made about the ability of traditional, social and religious leaders to be able to continue to control the flow of votes", observes Father McCulloch.
The missionary offers a special reflection on the role and situation of Christians in Pakistan: "Pakistani Christians were still politically disunited in the 2024 elections and remained unable to deliver a united vote bank in many electorates which would be decisive in obtaining effective affirmative action on their behalf by successful federal and provincial elected politicians.
No Christian was elected in the general election. Some will be designated on a proportional basis by the various successful political parties as members of parliament. However, they mostly act as part of the party vote bank rather than as effective parliamentary advocates for the Pakistani Christian population". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 14/2/2024)