Votes of the non-Muslim electorate are likely to play a decisive role in the final result of May 11 polls, Nadra Chairman, Tariq Malik contended during an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune.
Quoting from NADRA statistics he claimed that there are about 96 constituencies where the key to success lies in the hands of non-Muslim Pakistanis.
And he says NADRA deserves a lot of the credit for empowering minorities by broadening the base of national registration.
“Once they got the CNIC, they became voters. ‘One CNIC and One Vote’ paradigm has opened avenues for non-Muslims to mainstream their political, social and economic rights as bonafide citizens of Pakistan”, he added.
He claims that with the increased vote bank of non-Muslim Pakistanis, no party can now ignore the effect that minority votes will have in a number of districts.
Given the level of competitiveness that is expected in these elections, there is a good chance that districts like Umerkot, Tharparkar and Mirpur Khas may have a big say in deciding who comes to power.
He said, as of now, there are more than 1.3 million Hindus registered in the database.
“Christians, the second largest non-Muslim community in the country – Hindus being the largest - has over 1.2 million voters. Ahmadis stand third with over 115 thousand registered voters followed by the Sikh community with more than five thousand,” he said.
Mr. Malik listed Umerkot, Tharparkar and Mirpurkhas, all three from Sindh, which stand out from the rest in terms of non-Muslim voter percentage. Umerkot has approximately more than 177,000 voters, which means that the percentage of non-Muslim voters is around 48.3% of the registered voters. Tharparkar too recorded a high percentage (46.05%). Mirpurkhas is 32.36%, Tando Allahyar 25.74%, while Badin and Sanghar are 19.03% and 18.74% respectively.
Discussing Punjab, he said Lahore alone hosts close to 242,000 non-Muslim voters, Gujranwala more than 87,000 while more than 125 thousand non-Muslim voters will be voting in Faisalabad. While more than 43,000 Hindus alone are registered to vote from Rahim Yar Khan.
In Balochistan, he mentioned Quetta where over 12,000 Christians are registered voters, as is the case with Peshawar. Chiniot recorded the highest number of Ahmedi voters followed by Sialkot. Buner in K-P has the highest number of Sikh votes.
Malik said that he and his staff have been working hard to facilitate all members of the Pakistani population, regardless of their religion, caste and creed.
“Currently, more than 450 employees within NADRA are non-Muslims who enjoy the same rights and benefits as all other employees of the authority. This non-discriminatory attitude of NADRA also reflects in its day to day dealings with the Pakistani population,” he added.
This personal interaction, he said, allowed him to gain in-depth knowledge of the problems faced by them during the registration process and measures have been taken to ensure their solutions as quick as possible.
“For example, previously, some names were difficult to spell when translated and written in Urdu. This resulted in some errors in old voters’ lists. However, now we have been able to rectify this and a number of similar problems; and no such mistakes can be found in the new lists generated by the Authority,” he asserted.
“When we compare the representation of non-Muslim voters in the current electoral rolls to that of the previous ones we come across a significant improvement which is a very promising sign not only for those institutions who made this possible but far more importantly for the country,” Malik said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2013.