Terming the ineligibility of non-Muslims to become president or prime minister unjust, Awami National Party (ANP) Senator Haji Adeel demanded to abolish the condition.
While speaking in the Senate, he observed, “This ban is discriminatory and against the basic political rights.”
He was referring the sub-clause two of the Article 41of the Constitution, “A person shall not be qualified for election as President unless he is a Muslim of not less than forty-five years of age and is qualified to be elected as member of the National Assembly.”
The ANP leader made the statement soon after the oath-taking ceremony of 54 new members, including four minorities, of the Upper House.
He questioned as to why non-Muslims could not be the president or prime minister if they could become services chiefs or chief justice of Pakistan.
PPP stalwart Aitzaz Ahsan stood up in his support and said non-Muslims should not be called as minorities. “They are equal citizens of Pakistan and have equal religious and political rights as well,” Aitzaz said adding he would call them (non-Muslims) as Pakistanis, not minorities.
Newly elected PML-N’s Senator Kamran Michel, who is a Christian, also endorsed Adeel’s proposal, saying that non-Muslims of Pakistan are as much patriotic as others are.
“Terrorists are minority, not us,” said an emotional Michel while delivering his first speech in the Senate. He added their loyalty with the country should not be doubted.
Newly elected chairman Senate Nayyar Husain Bukhari suggested for bringing an amendment in the Constitution with the consensus of all political parties in this regard.
Outgoing senator of PML-Q and a constitutional expert, S.M. Zafar while speaking to the media said that the condition of being Muslim for the president or the prime minister was included in the Constitution as Pakistan came into being in the name of Islam.
After the creation of the Constitution, no one made any serious attempt to abolish the clause. “I think there should be no problem if condition is deleted from the Constitution,” he added.
PPP’s Senator Raza Rabbani said that the ban should be lifted as the minorities have the equal political rights.
“It will be a good gesture if the Constitution is neutralized in this way,” Rabbani said. However, he added, in present political circumstances, it was almost impossible for any non-Muslim to get these top slots in the country.
Haji Adeel said that whether a non-Muslim could get these top slots or not due to political reasons, at least the Constitution should be neutral. He has been facing criticism for declaring Muhammad bin Qasim and Mehmood Ghaznavi, who are respected among Muslims, as killer and robbers.
He said the local non-Muslims, including Raja Dahir and Prithvi Raj, should be given respect who defended the land against foreign attackers. In his view, the real heroes should be people of this land beyond their religious affiliations.