Associate Minister's June 2013 Letter

Democracy in Pakistan

 

On May 9th I was invited to be cast away on a desert island with 8 records.  An awesome prospect but thankfully I wasn’t alone at all but safely in the company of about 25 others in the Woodbury Salterton Village Hall.  They had come to hear me talk about my life and hear my selection of music ranging from ‘The Laughing Policeman’ to a short section from Haydn’s Nelson Mass.

 

An extraordinary experience to be able to tell my life story without being interrupted – I probably went on far too long!  A large section was about our time in Pakistan where we lived and worked for 10 years.  It has been interesting to see so much coverage on the news of the recent election but heartbreaking to hear of the violence instigated by the Taliban who wanted to disrupt the democratic process.

 

Would we in the UK still vote if there was the risk of suicide bombers blowing up polling stations?  In the period leading up to the election in Pakistan on Saturday 11th May 130 people were killed by the Taliban and yet polling went ahead and an incredible 60% of the electorate voted.  That is nearly as many as turned out for recent UK general elections!

 

The question I ask is why are Muslim extremists so opposed to democracy?  Many of them see it as simply a western imposition.  One leader, said “We are not in favour of democracy, democracy is for Jews and Christians,”

 

The irony is that a thousand years ago things were totally reversed.  In Europe kings ruled by divine right and imposed a strict version of Christian morality on the population.  In Islamic countries the original teaching of the prophet was still remembered even if not put into practice:  that all men are brothers and those of other faiths are to be respected.  Even women were given more rights than in the west at that time.

 

It has taken centuries for our democratic system to develop and now we take it for granted.  Whereas here in the UK young adults are the group least likely to vote in Pakistan it is reported that young adults have flocked to the polls.  Their way of saying they believe in electing an accountable government and defying the Taliban extremism.

 

Let us pray for Pakistan, and especially the Christian minority, who struggle in the face of discrimination.  The newly elected politicians can’t do miracles. Real change will only happen when people work together for the good of all.  Something we are still learning here in the west.

 

Christopher Cant

 

 


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