The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday directed the attorney general (AG) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to respond to a five-year old petition seeking the inclusion of Ahmadis in the joint electoral rolls.
In its order, the three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Justice Ijaz Afzal and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, also directed the AG and the ECP to explain the constitutional status of former president Pervez Musharraf’s 2002 order which inserted articles 7(b) and (c)in the Constitution, and hence allowed the creation of separate electoral rolls for Ahmadis.
Under Musharraf’s order, if a voter’s belief regarding the finality of prophethood came under objection, he would have to sign a declaration stating he believed Muhammad (pbuh) to be the final prophet. Any voter refusing to sign the declaration would be treated as non-Muslim and have his name deleted from the electoral rolls and registered in a supplementary list.
In his 2007 petition, Kanwar Idrees argued the law discriminated against Ahmadis in particular and allowed other non-Muslim communities to be registered in the joint electoral rolls. Arguing his petition before the court on Thursday himself, Idrees maintained that as Pakistani citizens, he and other Ahmadis should be treated equally in accordance with the Constitution.
Following his arguments, Justice Saeed observed that the joint electoral system was in vogue throughout the country and questioned why such a law was being implemented.
In response to another question from Justice Saeed, the petitioner said that he met with the chief election commissioner to discuss the practice but was told it could not be stopped unless the law was amended through Parliament.
After announcing its orders to the AG and ECP, the bench deferred the hearing of Idrees’s petition till March 11.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2013.