NITICentral: Pakistan’s minority Ahmadi community on Sunday announced that it would boycott the general elections on May 11 to protest discrimination against its members.
“No Ahmadi will vote on May 11 to register his or her protest on the discrimination against Ahmadis,” said Saleemuddin, the spokesman for the Jamaat Ahmadiya Pakistan.
According to election rules, the basic requirement to be a voter is Pakistani citizenship, and not the religious or ideological beliefs a citizen holds, he said in a statement.
“The voter registration form that the Election Commission of Pakistan has issued has a special entry for religion. In order to register as a voter, Ahmadis have to disassociate from the Holy Prophet, which no Ahmadi could ever imagine,” Saleemuddin said.
“It is important to note that for a joint electorate, there is supposed to be a single voters’ list for everyone but in the 2002 and 2008 general elections, special orders were issued to prepare separate voters’ lists for Ahmadis. This was not changed for the upcoming general election and the Election Commission had included the special entry for Ahmadis in its guide for preparing the voters’ list,” he said.
In the wake of this directive, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Muslims and people of other religions would be on one list while there would be a separate list for Ahmadis.
“This is the worst kind of discrimination and bigotry.
This is against the sayings of the founder of nation as well as the rights given in the Constitution of Pakistan and specifically against the spirit of joint electorate,” Saleemuddin said.
“It is also against the conventions on human rights that the State of Pakistan has signed. This is an intentional attempt to deprive Ahmadis, who are law-abiding citizens of Pakistan, from exercising their fundamental rights and to separate them from the national discourse,” he said.
Over 150,000 Ahmadi voters are registered in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Ahmadis are a controversial Islamic sect who consider themselves Muslim but were declared non-Muslims through a constitutional amendment in 1974.
A decade later, they were barred from proselytising or identifying themselves as Muslims.
Some 1.5 million Ahmadis live across the country.