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  • » 04/05/2013, 00.00


    Pakistan elections: for young people Sharia is better than democracy

    Jibran Khan

    A survey conducted among 5,000 Pakistanis aged 18 to 29 delivers such a result. One third of Pakistani voters are under 30 and they will play a decisive role in May's election. Over two thirds state that they are worse off now. The economy, not extremism, is the real concern. Catholic leaders say, "It takes time" to rebuild the country and "trust" in the future.

    Islamabad (AsiaNews) - For a majority of 5,000 Pakistanis between the ages of 18 and 29, Islamic law and government are better than democracy. More than half of them believe democracy has not been good for the country and 94 per cent said Pakistan was going in the wrong direction, up from 50 per cent in 2007, this according to a report by the British Council, an organisation specialising in international educational and cultural opportunities and development. Speaking about the survey, Catholic leaders in Islamabad said that "it takes time" to rebuild the country, which needs "opportunities" to grow in order to give new confidence and hope to new generations.

    Pakistan is going to the polls in May after the National Assembly ended its mandate on 16 March. The outgoing legislature was controlled by the Pakistan People's Party. This marks the first successful democratic transition between two elected governments in a country that has seen many dictatorships and military coups over the decades.

    More than 75 per cent of those surveyed for the report said the way the country was governed had worsened since the last election, whilst 58 per cent does not believe that "democracy has been good for Pakistan" in the past years. Almost 70 per cent said they were worse off now than five years ago with rising prices as the greatest concern.

    For analysts, the survey results are important because the younger generation will be crucial to the outcome of the upcoming election in May, this, in a country where one third of voters are under 30.

    For a majority of them, Sharia and military rule are a better than western-style democracy, a sign that young Pakistanis are "pessimistic" and "disenchanted" after five years of civilian rule.

    In fact, about 70 per cent have more faith in the army than any other institution; only 13 per cent trust the government.

    Finally, one respondent in four said they had been directly affected by violence, or had witnessed a serious violent event. That figure rises to more than 60 per cent in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

    "We respect the voice of the youth. This is the beauty of democracy, which we must accept," the bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi told AsiaNews. However, the "system should provide opportunities" for development "to correct policies," Mgr Rufin Anthony explained. This way, "the whole system will be back on track".

    Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, a former Christian provincial assemblyman, agrees. Citing Pakistan's founder Ali Jinnah, "religion must be kept separate from state affairs".

    For this reason, "Democratic forces must stand firm if democracy is to prevail in Pakistan" over authoritarianism. "A democratic government," he noted, "came to power after ten years of dictatorship, and it takes time to remove the mistakes made" during that period.

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    See also

    31/03/2012 PAKISTAN
    Faisalabad, the battle of a Christian woman for her family and religious freedom
    Hanifan Bibi was segregated at home by her husband who converted to Islam following an extramarital affair with a Muslim woman. He wanted to take the house bought with money earned by his wife. The intervention of NCJP activists has helped justice prevail. Now the court will assess civil damages.

    30/05/2006 PAKISTAN
    Around 600 people a year are forcely converted to Islam

    A meeting about the practice was organized by the Minority Rights Commission of Pakistan. The courts were accused of being too dependent on their Islamic environment. A Catholic bishop said the feudal mentality and the economy also play a part.

    24/05/2016 16:25:00 PAKISTAN
    Lahore High Court rules on divorce law, ends marriage discrimination for Christians

    The 1869 law is restored. In 1981, under General Zia’s rule, an amendment was introduced that allowed Christian couples to divorce only in case of adultery. This chained women to violent and polygamous marriages, and forced Christians who wanted to end a marriage to convert to Islam.

    25/08/2011 PAKISTAN
    Punjab: Muslims kidnap 14 year old Christian to convert her to Islam
    Mehek Masih was taken from her home in broad daylight and under the threat of a gun. Muslim man intends to "purify her" making her "Muslim and my mistress." Archbishop Saldanha cases of this type are "frequent," the law does not protect minorities. One of the many "crosses" that Pakistani Christians have to endure.

    22/08/2007 PAKISTAN
    Two Christian girls of 11 and 16 kidnapped, converted to Islam and forced to marry
    The police fails to intervene, while the families fall into the hands of unscrupulous go betweens.

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