CHITRAL, April 12: Elders of the Kalash community from the three valleys of Birir, Rumbur and Bumburate here on Friday demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should give them their constitutional rights of choosing their own candidate as per the constitution of 1973.
Addressing a news conference here, Wazir Zada, Luke Rehmat, Unat Baig and others said Kalash were a unique nation in the world and had been registered with the United Nations as an indigenous people. They said according to the constitution of 1973, the schedule caste, including Sikh, Hindu, Parsi, Bhai and Kalash, had the right to field their own candidates for elections and after the polls they could join the ruling party or sit in the opposition. But in 2001, then president Pervez Musharraf abolished this right of the minorities and brought them under the joint electorate system thus leaving the community at the mercy of major political parties. They said there was no column for the Kalash community in NADRA as a separte people when they get tehir national identity cards. They said the government of Pakistan was a signatory to the UN resolution on indigenous people and bound to protect the rights of the minorities. “However, we have been deprived of our genuine right.” They demanded the restoration of article relating to the minorities in 1973 constitution. They announced to boycott the upcoming general elections and said no Kalash will cast their vote until fulfillment of their genuine demand.
They warned that if they were not given the right to contest the election as minority candidates they will also returned their national identity cards to NADRA.They said Shahzada Khan Kalash had contested elections twice in 1993 and 1997 as a minority candidate but after that they were deprived of their right to take part in the elections.—GH Farooqui