J.Salik, Tariq C Qaiser, Simon Gill, Saleem Khokhar, Michael Javeed. Rustam Qaisar, Johnson Michael, Raj Hameed and Peter Gill disqualified to contest election being not graduates.<br>By Robin Fernandez
14 Jul 2002
KARACHI: July 13. Two of the four Christians who won parliament seats in 1997 were barred Thursday along with another 99 former deputies from contesting the October 10 election. Tariq C Qaiser, elected from the all-Pakistan constituency of NA-208, an
A fresh sub-clause introduced into the government-crafted Election Order stipulates that only those candidates who have passed their graduation can contest seats in the federal parliament and provincial assemblies. Neither the Sheikupura-born Qaiser nor Jacob was available for comment on their disqualification-which the government insists is based on whatever information the candidates themselves submitted to the Election Commission. Only one out of five Christian members of the suspended Punjab Assembly would be eligible to contest the fresh poll.
While Adil Sharif Gill of Sialkot who holds a master's degree as well as bachelors in education can take part, his ex-colleagues in the assembly-- Chaudhry Rustam C. Qaisar, Johnson Michael, Begum Raj Hameed Gill and Mr Peter Gill-stand disqualified because they, too, do not fulfill the graduation condition.
J salik who did not win the 1997 election on the reserved Christians in National assembly of Pakistan but he was federal minister is also unable to contest the election because he is not graduate.
Former Sindh assembly members Saleem Khokhar and Michael Javeed are also disqualified to contest the elections when they are unable to compete on the election commission. Criteria.
Another former member of parliament, Father Rufin Julius, was earlier listed among those who did not qualify for the election. But Fr Rufin, who was elected from the NA-209 constituency five years ago, brushed off the suggestion by flashing before the doubting public and media his doctorate in theology.
Both the Gujranwala-born Fr Rufin and his one-time colleague in parliament Peter John Salhotra are free to take part in the upcoming poll. Neither man, however, is happy with the joint electorate system under which the October polls are being held despite the fact that this time Christians and other minorities will be able to vote for, and be voted by, the members of the Muslim majority. "It is not possible for a minority candidate to contest against a candidate who enjoys the support of more than 95 per cent of the population," Fr Rufin Julius was quoted as saying in reaction to the abolition of separate electorates on January 16, 2002. Instead, Fr Rufin and Salhotra advocate the creation of special seats for minorities.
Minority representives warned earlier this month at a meeting in Karachi that their community members could not make it to parliament unless the government guaranteed reserved seats for them. Without reserved seats, they said, the joint electorate system approved for minorities would be ineffective. Citing the current climate of religious intolerance, the minority leaders said, the National Assembly as well as the four provincial legislatures is likely to be deprived of minority representation.