UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News


Pakistan rejects attempt to allow non-Muslim PM, president

Christian lawmaker says he will continue his campaign to open positions to every citizen irrespective of faith or color

Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Pakistan rejects attempt to allow non-Muslim PM, president

Pakistani Shia Muslims carry 72 mock coffins during a mourning procession in Karachi on Sept. 12 to mark Muharram, the first Islamic month of the lunar calendar. A Christian lawmaker has failed in a bid to open up the positions of prime minister and president to non-Muslims. (Photo by Asif Hassan/AFP)

Share this article :
A Christian MP in Pakistan has slammed the ruling Justice party for rejecting his bill seeking to allow non-Muslim members of parliament to become president or prime minister of the country.

Naveed Aamir Jeeva, a Christian lawmaker of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, tabled the bill in the National Assembly.

The bill proposed amendment to Articles 41 and 91 of the constitution that bar Christians and other non-Muslim minorities from getting elected as head of state.

“A person shall not be qualified for election as president unless he is a Muslim of not less than 45 years of age and is qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly,” Article 41 states.

Article 91 reads: “After the election of the speaker and the deputy speaker, the National Assembly shall, to the exclusion of any other business, proceed to elect without debate one of its Muslim members to be the prime minister.”

The lower house blocked the Christian MP’s bill with a majority vote following objections from a minister known for hardline views on Islam.

Ali Muhammad, minister of state for parliamentary affairs, said: “Pakistan is an Islamic republic where only a Muslim can be elevated to the slots of the president and prime minister. The minorities are enjoying complete freedom and security and their rights are being protected in Pakistan.”

Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, a member of Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, welcomed the government’s stance on the proposed amendment.

“No law against Islamic values and teachings can be passed, introduced or even debated in the parliament,” he was quoted by The News as saying.

The Christian lawmaker, however, said that he would continue to exercise his democratic right to introduce legislation.

“It was disappointing that the ruling party opposed my bill. We believe every Pakistani citizen irrespective of his faith or color has the right to become prime minister or president,” Jeeva told ucanews.com.

“If Christians, Hindus are other minorities enjoy equal rights, there should be no constitutional bar on them to lead this country.

“Our democratic struggle for abrogation of discriminatory laws will continue despite setbacks and hurdles. Thankfully, I have full backing of my party. We will try and build a consensus, and table the bill again for debate.”

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
UCA Newsletter
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution