On January 18, 2024, the Christian rights group, Minorities Alliance Pakistan (MAP), held a press conference at the Lahore Press Club, demanding comprehensive reforms in Pakistan's electoral system for improved representation of religious minorities. The conference, led by Advocate Akmal Bhatti, Chairman of the Minority Alliance Pakistan, emphasized the systemic neglect of minority rights in the manifestos of major political parties.
Advocate Bhatti, accompanied by Vice Chairman Shamoun Alfred Gill and Joseph Jansen, President of MAP-Belgium, expressed deep concerns over the current state of electoral affairs, especially regarding reserved seats for minorities and women. They criticized the prevalent nepotism, bribery, and recommendation culture, asserting that these practices betray true democratic values by marginalizing minority voices.
The leaders underscored the failure of the Constitution of Pakistan and the Election Act to effectively address the disenfranchisement of minorities. "Depriving a major political party from the elections also strips millions of women and thousands of minorities of their right to have their voices represented," Chairman Bhatti stated.
Joseph Jansen emphasized the urgent need for legislation against forced religious conversions and minor girl marriages. He urged political parties to prioritize laws against hate crimes and discrimination. Jansen also called for measures to prevent forced conversions of minority girls and to ensure justice for victims by prosecuting perpetrators. Additionally, he advocated for including minority job quotas in public services and admission quotas in higher educational institutions.
Shamoun Alfred Gill expressed concerns about the reluctance of Jaranwala's people to participate in the voting process, citing a lack of trust in the political system due to unfulfilled promises and fears of religious extremism.
The conference concluded with Chairman Bhatti's declaration of support from the Minorities Alliance Pakistan for any political party that commits to including electoral reforms in their manifesto, especially those upholding the rights of minorities to elect their representatives. This call for change aims to create a democratic process that genuinely represents the diverse populace of Pakistan.