Minorities and representation in a plural society: The case of the Christians of Pakistan

Ajay K Raina

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    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Human rights groups have documented the plight of Pakistan s religious minorities for years, but it is only recently that these minorities have become the focus of academic political science discourse. This discourse, however, borrows from a well-developed liberal literature on Pakistan s democratic instability that makes assumptions about the inclusiveness of democratic regimes and exclusivism of dictatorships-most notably that of General Zia-ul-Haq. On close scrutiny, these assumptions do not hold. In this paper, I evaluate the political capacities of minorities through an institutionalised assessment of the quantity and quality of minorities voices in an electoral-legislative framework. Such a model, in the context of a plural society, is more likely to better reflect the capacity of a minority s ability to withstand the tyranny of the majority, and assess the potential for its integration into the political mainstream. Towards this end, I analyse the demography-representation correlates of the Christian minority in Pakistan s federal legislatures since Independence in 1947. I argue that the institutionalised Christian presence has often been sub-proportionate, lacking in authority and leverage, and tokenistic. Finally, I suggest remedial measures to improve the efficacy of minority representation and political empowerment by adapting certain voting paradigms suggested by Lani Guinier.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)684 - 699
    Number of pages16
    JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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