By Robin Gomes
Ahead of the July 25 elections, the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference (PCBC) issued a statement saying the elections must express the will of voters with the participation of every community.
Signed by NCJP president Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese, national director Fr Emmanuel Yousaf and executive director Cecil Shane Chaudhry, the statement demanded that "elections be transparent, that every step of the electoral process be easily understood and be open to public scrutiny by all interested stakeholders (voters, political parties, external observers). Furthermore, all results must be independently verified."
Civilian and military governments
More than 105.9 million Pakistanis are voting to elect a prime minister, transferring power from one civilian government to another for only the second time since its independence in 1947. The first was in 2013. No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office.
The nation’s 70-year history has alternated between quasi-democracy and the rule of the country’s powerful military. Wednesday’s elections come at a critical moment for the country’s some 200 million people who are stressed by violence and Islamist militancy.
Democracy for common good
According to Archbishop Arshad, the president of Pakistan’s Catholic bishops, "democracy is, in essence, people who work and walk together to support the common good.”
Speaking on the phone to Vatican News, Archbishop Arshad expressed satisfaction that the democratic process is going ahead with the elections, which, he said, is very important for the country. However, he expressed fear that without any clear winner, the process for development and progress will suffer.
Fr Emmanuel Yousaf also stressed on the importance of democracy for the nation and hoped that “during the elections all observers, civil society groups, activists and volunteers can play their part impartially," and that the members of "all communities can cast their votes regardless of the political party they support".
The NCJP shared the concern of the citizens about “an uncertain social climate with respect to vital sectors in people's lives, particularly health, education, safety, the promotion of solid human values and international responsibility." (Source: AsiaNews)