Christian legislator’s post on the line

By July 12, 2012

Pakistan (MNN) — A Pakistan Christian legislator almost lost his political seat–but not because he’s a Christian.

According to Compass Direct News, Rana Asif Mahmood’s opponents said he wasn’t qualified for the minorities’ seat in the Punjab Provincial Assembly because his Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) labels him as a Muslim. But Mahmood qualifies for the seat as a minority Christian.

Mahmood said that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) made an error on his CNIC because his name sounds Muslim, but they refuse to fix the mistake.

Opponents seeking to disqualify Mahmood accepted his statement after he strongly declared on the floor that he was born as a Christian. He asked them not to create propaganda that would falsely lead Muslim extremists to believe he is trying to leave the Islamic faith and thus seek to kill him.

While his Muslim identity didn’t cost Mahmood the seat in the Punjab Provincial Assembly, he did lose a cabinet position and his part in the provincial budget proposal for 2012-2013.

Mahmood stated, “The situation was revealed to me when my son applied for a CNIC a few months ago. He was told that he could not put down Christianity as his religion because the records showed his father to be a Muslim.”

When he learned of the problem, Mahmood said, “[I] reported it to NADRA. After some days, I received my CNIC, and it did not mention religion, so I assumed that NADRA had changed its records.”

NADRA’s system doesn’t let Muslims change their identity in the religion column of their CNIC. However, non-Muslims can make changes to their religious affiliation. Converting to Islam is an especially welcomed change.

Mahmood’s passport identifies him as a Christian, and because NADRA mistakenly identified him as a Muslim, he’s also had to correct his passport twice.

An anonymous NADRA official who spoke with Compass Direct said those applying for a new CNIC are sent a form with their personal information where they are given the chance to identify any mistakes. If someone gave evidence of religious identity and proved the clerical error, the mistake would be fixed.

The official went on to say, “But a clerical error is highly unlikely. Data is cross-checked several times in cases of identity card entries.”

Apparently, Mahmood didn’t see improved results even after following those steps.

Please pray for Mahmood’s safety and perseverance, that he might be a light for Christ in Pakistan’s political arena.

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