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Home Media Reports 2007 Ahmadis boycott polls over ‘discrimination’
Ahmadis boycott polls over ‘discrimination’
Daily Times
Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ahmadis boycott polls over ‘discrimination’

* Announce protest against separate voter lists

By Ali Waqar

LAHORE: The Ahmadi community of Pakistan has announced that it will boycott the upcoming general elections because of what it claims to be religious discrimination by the Election Commission (EC) when it issued a separate list for Ahmadi voters in a joint electorate system, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya (JA) officials told Daily Times on Saturday.

They said that no community member would contest the elections or vote come election day, and those who did would no longer be considered part of the community.

Salimuddin, a spokesman for the JA, told Daily Times that following the display of the separate voter lists, he wrote a letter to the chief election commissioner (CEC), drawing his attention to the “stark violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution and Pakistan’s international human rights commitments”.

“This is also contrary to the spirit of justice and equality. Since the inception of Pakistan in 1947 to the time of General Ziaul Haq, all national elections were conducted on the basis of the joint electorate system. This was in line with the vision of the founding father of the nation and was enshrined in the 1973 Constitution,” he said.

Unfortunately, he said, during the government of Ziaul Haq, the joint electorate system was replaced by separate electorates, which gave rise to sectarianism and religious intolerance.

The letter reminded the CEC that President Pervez Musharraf’s government took the decision to restore the joint electorate system, which was a step in the right direction. However, he said, the practical outcome of the change was not as real as it might appear. “There still happens to be a section of society that is discriminated against on the basis of religion … Ahmadis’ votes are registered only if they dissociate themselves from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), something which is not possible for any Ahmadi to do in light of our religious belief and practical life,” he said in the letter. EC Secretary Kunwar Dilshad had no clear answer to the complaint.

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