ASIA/PAKISTAN - General, free and fair elections: the Church supports democracy

Tuesday, 24 July 2018 elections   local churches  


Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - On the eve of the general elections, scheduled for July 25, the National Commission for "Justice and Peace" (NCJP) of the Pakistani Bishops' Conference, issued a statement, sent to Agenzia Fides in which it positively emphasizes the fact that "Pakistan is moving towards its democratic transition" because "the elections are a central feature of democracy".
"For elections to express the will of the electorate - continues the text - it must be 'free and fair'. In other words, all those entitled to vote have the right to be registered and to vote. The elections in Pakistan cannot be ‘free and fair’ if any community is excluded from the electoral process. Religious disagreements cannot justify denying people their right to vote".
The National Justice and Peace Commission appreciates that the current government has completed its time period and that now another democratic government is going to take over after general elections. In a joint statement, the Archbishop of Islamand-Rawalpindi, Mgr. Joseph Arshad, Chairperson NCJP, Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani), National Director, and Cecil Shane Chaudhry, Executive Director NCJP "demand that elections should be transparent and each step of the election process should be easily understood and open to scrutiny by all stakeholders (voters, political parties, outside observers). All results should be independently verifiable".
Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) stated that "the Church is in support of democracy, we are aware and respect all democratic values. We hope that during the general election all observers, civil society, activists and volunteers will play their role impartially. Furthermore, all communities must cast their votes no matter which political party they are supporting".
Archbishop Arshad, the statement continues, stated that "democracy flourishes when it is rooted in a shared social ethic. Democracy is fundamentally about people working and walking together to foster the common good. Democracy is damaged by indifference and by a splintering of society or a fixation on individual interests.
We share the anxiety of many citizens in Pakistan at the fact that there is an uncertain social climate in the country regarding the vital sectors of people's lives, especially health, homes, education, security, the fostering of solid human values and international responsibility.
We urge all to carefully examine the persons they want to see in government and vote for only those who would enhance the development process. He further urged Pakistani authorities to ensure peace and security situation during general elections to protect democracy and free and fair elections. He also prayed for peace during the time of elections so that the people would feel secure to cast their vote without fear or threat of any oppression". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 24/7/2018)