Three Hindu candidates were elected on the general seats for the first time ever in the history of Pakistan. Mahesh Malani was declared as a winner on National Assembly seat from NA-222 Tharparkar, while Hari Ram Kishwari Lal won provincial assembly seat from PS-147 Mirpurkhas. Jamshoro’s Giyanoo Mal alias Giyan Chand Essrani also bagged a provincial assembly seat from PS-81. All three of the successful candidates were ticket holders of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Interestingly, none of the three successful candidates belongs to Scheduled Castes, which make up 90 percent of the total Hindu population in Pakistan. Mahesh Malani won his seat from Tharparkar District by bagging 106,630 votes against his opponent, Arbab Zakaullah who secured only 87,261 votes. It is worth mentioning that the Hindu population makes up 49 percent of the total population of Thar desert. Hari Ram Kirshwari Lal, who is considered a close friend of Asif Ali Zardari belongs to Mirpurkhas district, which has total population of around 1.5 mn out of which 23 percent are Hindus. Kishwari Lal secured 33,201 votes against his competitor from Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Mujeeb-ul-Haque who got 23,506 votes. Giyanoo Mal alias Giyan Chad Essrani belongs to Thano Bola Khan of Sindh’s Kohistan region in Jamshoro district. The Jamshoro district also has a substantial Hindu population. Essrani secured 34,927 votes against Malik Changez Khan who got 26,975 votes. Religious minorities were given the right of casting a ‘dual vote’ in 2002 when an amendment in the Legal Framework Order (LFO) was passed by the National Assembly. Under the so-called ‘dual vote’, minorities were allowed to vote on general seats and field candidates on the general seats as well. Earlier, LFO minorities had their own reserved seats and voters belonging to religious minorities could only vote for minority candidates contesting for reserved seats. After LFO, candidates belonging to religious minorities including Hindus, Christians, Ahmedis, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists and Jews were given the right to contest elections on general seats just like Muslim candidates. However, after this amendment was introduced the minorities were also stripped of their right to vote for minority candidates separately. Currently, candidates for ‘reserved’ minority seats are selected, vetted and finalized by political parties. Hindu organizations welcomed the election of the Hindu candidates on general seats. Pakistan Hindu Sabha (PHS) Chairman Dr Govind Ram said that nomination of Hindu candidates on general seats was a wonderful idea that only parties like PPP could pull off. “Other political parties should also consider nomination of Hindu candidates on general seats as there are 1.77 million Hindu voters in the country,” said Dr Ram. While appreciating the nomination of Hindu candidates, Govind Ram pointed out that Hindus who belonged to ‘Scheduled Castes’ made up the majority of Hindu population in Pakistan. “Hindus belonging to Scheduled Castes should be nominated as candidates too. They must be represented in the assemblies,” he added. Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan. According to official estimates, 7.5 million (mn) Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the Hindu community, over 9 million Hindus are living in the country. Majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with their Muslim fellows. Published in Daily Times, July 31st 2018.