ISLAMABAD, May 7,2013 (AAMIR SAEED / UPI Next) — Few non-Muslims are running in Pakistan’s planned May 11 election, a practice critics say reinforces non-Muslims’ status as a poor underclass in this predominantly Muslim country.
Pakistan’s major parties are ignoring Christians, Hindus and other minorities as potential candidates — neither the ruling Pakistan People’s Party of slain ex-leader Benazir Bhutto, nor its rival, the Pakistan Muslim League, the party of former premier Nawaz Sharif, have non-Muslims on their national parliamentary tickets.
There are non-Muslim candidates, but they are concentrated outside these two parties.
Ironically the country’s largest religious party Jamaat-i-Islami, considered far more conservative than the supposedly secular Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League, is running one non-Muslim candidate. In addition, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, considered the party most sympathetic toward non-Muslims, has one Christian running for a seat in the southern commercial hub of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.