My New Right- To Vote

My New Right- To Vote

It’s quite a news that voting in Pakistan is now a religious right. I don’t much know about the nuances of Shariah, hence I would refrain from commenting over it. However, I’d still like express my vantage view as a regular Pakistani citizen.



Late last month, the Pakistan Scholars Council issued an edict urging citizens of the pure land to vote- a move that granted the democratic process of voting a religious stamp of approval and was somehow celebrated in the country’s few remaining left-leaning, cautiously liberal drawing rooms and dialogue to the tune of “Ulema have unwitting audiences on Fridays so it might help the cause of elections but must we really call it an Islamic injunction?” ensued.



Most others, however, accepted the fatwa as a gimmick to garner support by feeding our starved population yet another yaprak dolma, poisonous grape leaves, laced with a self-serving sauce and stuffed with spicy religious right.



Needless to say, it caused bad indigestion in the house of Ehsanullah Ehsan, but as luck would have it, the religious decree surfaced again, evidenced by today’s voting rights developments. Samiul Haq, the fearless and knowledgeable leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S), has come down with a verdict, not a sermon, that again urges Pakistanis to vote as a matter of religious right as well as a defense against the havoc being wreaked. When rationale fails, religion appeals to the most jaded of minds. How fortunate are Pakistanis to live in such an inspired
For a struggling democracy that is in a habit of falling prey to bonafide military rule and thus giving up all rights in the form of suspended or overthrown constitutions, these new or perhaps previously latent, ‘entitlements’ are fascinating. A nation that has been systematically desensitized to the government’s expansive abuse of its civil and constitutional rights is now being offered a new type of right from the right-wing.


Let it never be said that our religious leaders metamorphosed into politicians don’t know how or when to play the odds. A sermon need not be handed down from the House of Religious Lords before Pakistanis realize the urgency to vote in the May 11, 2013 elections.



In urging you to vote I will not attempt to validate the request by constitution or religion, although as I have recently become aware, I would be well within the law to do either of the aforementioned. Instead, I think it would be more fruitful to vote in the name of good citizenship. The future is unpredictable and the only thing we know for certain is that a transition is on the table for now till it is replaced by old winds of stale change, read PML-N.
Voting differently now, may lead to a democratic state of affairs where the rights of individuals would not arise of desperate political moves but be known to all three hundred and sixty five days a year and then some.

Rida Qazi

reading Constitutional law at Harvard University and has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union

  • Hasan Tasleem

    Vote for Patang!!!!

  • tahseen khan

    Are you studying or simply reading constitutional law?

  • ahsan

    nicely calibrated article…

  • S Nasrullah

    Where ignorance is Bliss, it is folly to be Wise. While the Taliban have been vociferously denouncing Elections as a deviation to the religious dictates, the other end of the pendulum – the rightist religious scholars – have regimented against the myopic views of the Taliban, giving diametrically opposite interpretations. Rightly so, as Islam gives tremendous flexibility to encompass the scale and scope of human endeavors in its universal grasp through Ijma and Ijtehad. Verily the words of Allama Iqbal seem prophetic that :” Juda ho Deen Siyasat se to rahjati hai Changeezi”. Roughly translated: Devoid of Faith, Politics is rendered Pernicious.

    People of Pakistan must exercise their right of Franchise conscientiously and cast their Votes as a national Obligation. The Nation swims or sinks with the quality of the Leadership they Elect.

  • Zohaib Kiyani

    I disagree up to some extent and would like to explain what I think according to my observations that grew inside Pakistan and outside Pakistan. May be the writer Rida Qazi is not wrong the way she wants to uncover the fact that Pakistani nation is getting more and more religion focused and in an effort to become so, they are getting away from being a human being. May be she is right as more and more Islamic scholars in Pakistan are raising meaning less disputes and then all at once whole public jump into the dispute and here the mess starts.

    Now what I think is … let us move back to the history when Pakistan was created from a mass that was a victim of severe religious issues, British India. there were 2 religions and then after a long long sturdy series of efforts Quaid-e-Azam was able to get this piece of land independent. But ppl must sit with their grand parents and they would witness it too, Pakistan was fought to be independent on 2 nation views, where major one and only difference lawyered by Quaid was difference in religion. Pakistan is probably the only country around the globe who was created on the basis of religion so somehow religion has a strong impression on everyday’s life of every person.

    I am living in London for a couple of years and noticed a thing very carefully and almost daily, people here they don’t care of the religion and 90% yes I am sure they hardly think of it even once a circa. But even then there are few ppl who infact stand up in busy trains, get abused by majority of people and get bashed for their effort, but yet they preach and ask people in the name of GOD and bible to do right deeds and stop what is evil. So my point is when you see somebody who looks to have submerged in so much evil that it is impossible he will drive the life on right path, they must be poked with the most sensitive thing and that is religion to request them wake up and start doing what is right.

    When I watch them and then compare with the ppl of Pakistan where I have spent 26 years in different urban and rural areas, I am more than just convinced that they need a strong poke. if Pakistan has to be saved and rescued, I will use the word rescued, then all the well wishers of Pakistan must sit on their knees and urge every Pakistani to please use the right of the vote and use it the right way. The folks of Pakistan of rural areas who have grown pretty much impotent to the critical situation of nation from ages, their minds need to be poked, they need to be volcanized to urge to vote and vote the right leadership not the person who has been very useful in his area from many years. I have been living in Lahore for a long time and the youth which is seen to raise flags of different political parties especially PTI, a very small number of them usually go to the polling station on the day while most of them keep themselves busy updating Facebook status and enjoying yahoo chat.
    So if for the purpose of waking them up and urging to take a U-turn, if they are asked to vote in the name of Islam, it is not truly wrong in a sense because everyone knows if you start pondering on notion of ISLAM, first thing that strikes the mind is whoa our Islam always taught and established justice. So people of Pakistan this is the time you have to chose for you: justice or 1 more push towards the end and that push will really end the remaining hopes. At this stage, nobody can change the minds of people through debates or political tacts the only thing that can modify their mindset is THE CREATOR’s help. We can’t terminate the vide spectrum of possibilities saying democracy can save Pakistan. no it is a wrong notion, all the democrats in Pak are the biggest thugs on the heads of nation.

    The truth is this is really a hard time for Pakistan. It does not need a fair democracy, it actually needs a fair ruler. Once again it needs a LEADER. I can wish all good to my nation and request them to please change the scenario this time.