General elections are due to be held in July, 2018. Political parties are in the process to prepare their political manifestos to attract voters. For religious minorities, the three major political parties namely – PML-N, PPP, and PTI – made substantial commitments in the general elections of 2013. The promised to bring reforms for the social, legal, and economic uplift of religious minorities. In 2013, all three political parties vowed to provide equal opportunities to religious minorities in political matters. Since 2002, the religious minorities of Pakistan are enjoying the dual representation in electoral politics, i.e. through the direct vote and on the reserve seats. On one hand, under joint electorate system restored by General Pervez Musharraf, religious minorities were mainstreamed and given right to vote to elect their representatives and also right to be elected by their citizens. Though this provision looks exquisite, however, due to the historical detachment from mainstream politics and non-feasible political environment, minorities are unable to contest the elections and get elected until political parties give them tickets to contest elections on general seats. The recent example is the election of Senator Krishna Kumari who was given ticket by PPP on general seatsSenatenate elections this year. This development was widely hailed in all social and political circles across Pakistan. However, this did not happen for the first time. Earlier, Mahesh Malani was also elected from Tharparkar as MPA in Sindh Assembly on PPP’s ticket. Other political parties failed to provide party tickets to minority citizens. On the other side, recognizing this dismal situation of non-inclusion of minority candidature in general elections, the constitution also provides representation to religious minorities through reserved seats at all tiers of government. However, the selection of handpicked non-Muslim members through nominations by political parties lacks the credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of minority communities. At the same time, members of minority community lack the capacity and trust required to take a step forward and hold these MPs responsible and accountable to their needs and interests. Political parties need to devise a mechanism that allows to select the candidates from the minority community who has roots in the community, and retains some political credibility and integrity that can be judged through their performance while holding any political office. In the 76-pages long political manifesto of Pakistan Peoples Party, minorities got significant attention. Though the manifesto was prepared while keeping in mind the making of central government, and many of the commitments regarding minorities were also made at national level. These include the constitution of ‘An Equality Commission for Fair Pay and Fair Job’ and statutory status to The National Commission on Minorities. The commitments also include the efforts to strengthen interfaith harmony and promote dialogue and to develop the more inclusive curriculum at the primary and secondary school level prompting equality and respect for diversity. Of course, the party can claim that it could not get a national mandate in 2013 to fulfill all these commitments. The manifesto states that for minorities, PPP would ‘create equal opportunities through progressive legislation and policy reform’ and ‘build consensus for special procedures in the law to prevent forced conversions’. In this regard, Sindh government enacted three laws: Sindh Minority Rights Commission Act 2015, Sindh Hindu Marriage Act 2016, and Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Bill 2017. This legislation was regarded as landmark legislation in the history of Pakistan and these indeed were really commendable for minority citizens. However, these efforts only proved cosmetic initiatives. In this background, though Sindh government notified the establishment of Sindh Minority Rights Commission and appointed its members. However, this commission is on paper and holds no secretariat. Similarly, contrary to the needs and demand of community, Sindh Hindu Marriage Act 2016 is mere a registration mechanism as it lacks any legal mechanism available for divorce, separation, maintenance, adoption and inheritance. The community is demanding from Sindh government and PPP leadership to amend the said act; however, no significant development is viewed in this regard. Recently, a minority MPA of Sindh Assembly belonging to PML-F, Nand Kumar moved amendment bill into Sindh Assembly that is not even discussed on private member day despite being on the agenda possibly because of some opposition from Hindu members of the assembly. Similarly, the bill regarding protection of minorities was withdrawn by the government due to pressure from religious political parties. Further, at the provincial level, Sindh government could have established the Equality Commission to monitor the implementation of job quotas for minorities who are often offered janitorial and menial jobs in public sector job advertisements across Pakistan including Sindh province. It is significant to mention that the policy of five percent job quota in public sector jobs for religious minorities was framed by PPP government in 2009. The political manifesto of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in 2013 though incorporated some commitments but could not get prominent attention in 110 pages long manifesto. However, after establishing governments at centre , Punjab and Balochistan, PML-N also tried to fulfill some of the already small commitments. The manifesto (pg 45) states that there would be made ‘necessary legislative measures…..to ensure there is no forced conversion of religion in the guise of marriage’ and the acceleration in the passing of ‘Hindu Marriage Bill through the National Assembly’. In this regard, the Christian community in Pakistan is demanding the amendments in Christian personal laws because the only grounds for divorce recognized by the Christian Divorce Act are ‘commission of adultery and change of religion’. Therefore, it is a long practice that in the absence of laws, Christian couples adopt to change religion and get a divorce and in some of the cases, this becomes an issue of communal violence and hatred. Recognizing this problem with respect to dignity and safety of Christian women also, PML-N government in Punjab also vowed to amend the Christian personal laws in Women Empowerment Package 2017, however, there seems no step forward on this development. Similarly, Federal Government also initiated the process of amendment in Christian personal laws and federal ministry of human rights announced the moving of amended bills in October 2017, however, restrained later on. Nevertheless, as per commitment in the manifesto, the federal government enacted Hindu Marriage Act 2017 implementable in provinces of Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and ICT. However, even after passing of more than a year, rules of business have not been framed yet to implement it. The manifesto of PML-N also contains the commitment that the government would introduce quota for minorities in an educational institution and public sector jobs including diplomatic missions. Though policy of 5 percent job quota in public sector jobs is already in place since 2009, however, there are many hurdles in its implementation. The job quota is often filled with menial jobs, often implemented half-heartedly, sometimes even denied, and in the case of higher commission jobs, in many instances no suitable candidates are available and seats remain unfilled. So the implementation of a job quota without provision of a concurrent education admission quota for religious minority students in educational institutions, particularly at college and university level, seems not possible. Regardless of commitments by PML-N to frame a policy for education quota for minorities in their 2013 manifesto, no progress made. Even the National Assembly Standing Committee on Federal Education rejected the private member bill by JUI-F MNA Asiya Nasir seeking ‘The Minorities Access to Higher Education’. Minorities are not treated separately in PTI’s manifesto, however, the party showed an intention to treat minorities equally with the majority. Therefore, there was no significant attempt made by KP’s government for the betterment of minorities. In 2015, the PTI-led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa passed a resolution under article 144 of the constitution giving the federal government a mandate to legislate for minorities’ personal laws on its behalf. The writer works for governance and rule of law with a national organisation Published in Daily Times, April 30th 2018.