ISLAMABAD: The number of voters belonging to religious minorities in the country has climbed to 4.43 million from 3.63 million in 2018. The number of voters from religious minorities was 2.77m in electoral rolls for the 2013 general election.
The latest figures of minority voterswere disclosed by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chairman Tariq Malik during a consultative session with an interfaith delegation, led by Senator Kamran Michael, which called on him here on Monday.
The Nadra chairman informed the delegation that the authority had so f ar registered 4.43m people belonging to minority communities including Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and people belonging to other religions.
Senator Gurdeep Singh, Senator Danesh Kumar, Senator Anwar Lal Dean, Senator Krishna Bai, MNA Amir Naveed Jeeva and MPA Shakeel Marcus Khokhar attended the consultative session.The interfaith delegation briefed the Nadra chairman of problems being faced by their communities in getting the legal idendty in the country.
Mr Tariq Malik informed members of the delegation that rights of the people belonging to minority communities were as important as the rights ofanyothercidzen ofPakistan.
He said that religious minorities in Pakistan contributed to the political and social stability, development and prosperity of the state and they were considered significant components in maintaining peace and stability in society.
`We are all equal citizens of this country and we all have equal rights.Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan gives freedom to all citizens to practice their religions and to run their own religious institutions,` Mr Malik said.
He said that Nadra, being the custodian of identity of citizens of the country, was fully aware of its responsibility and gave priority to registration of people belong to minorities.
He said that Nadra was launching a special registration campaign titled `Identity Empowerment` to speed up the process of registration of minorities in the country.
The purpose of the consultative session and the focused campaign was to create awareness among members of minority communities to obtain identity as it enables them to exercise their social, economic and political rights.
While launching the week-long campaign of minority registration, Mr Malik said that after assuming the charge as the chairman of the authority a year ago he immediately dismantled barriers hampering registration of people from other religions and communities.
He said he had created the Inclusive Registration Department in this regard so that no individual could be left behind. With regard to registering unregistered people, the Nadra chairman announced that in order to facilitate minority groups issuance of identity cards for the first time wouldbe free of cost.
He further announced that marriage could also be registered without producing the Nikah Nama if the spouse provided biometric attestation and divorce could also be registered with Nadra on the basis of an af fidavit to facilitate members of minority communities.
He said that Nadra had started a helpline to facilitate people about Nadra policy and procedures and Nadra helpline would be integrated with the helpline of ministry of human rights.
He also announced a special counter and preferential treatment at Nadra registration centres to people belonging to different religions.