Christian politician makes history in Pakistan after election as deputy speaker of Sindh Assembly

Newly-elected Sindh Assembly Speaker Syed Owais Qadir Shah is seen greeting Deputy Speaker Anthony Naveed after the latter took oath of office on Sunday. (Photo: YouTube/Screenshot)

Christian politician Anthony Naveed has achieved a major political milestone after he was elected as the first Christian Deputy Speaker of the Sindh Provincial Assembly last Sunday.

Naveed, who is the only Christian selected on a reserved seat for minorities in the Sindh Provincial Assembly by the progressive Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) after the Feb. 8 general election, bagged 111 votes out of 147 votes cast. His opponent, Advocate Rashid Khan of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, clinched 36 votes.

Born into a modest Catholic family in Karachi, 53-year-old Naveed obtained an engineering diploma in garment technology from the Pakistan Swedish Institute of Technology. Throughout his career, Naveed has been actively engaged in community service, serving as vice president of the Karachi Christian Boys Association and representing the Catholic Youth Commission of Pakistan at the World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002.

He has also worked with the Pakistan Christian Congress focusing on educational initiatives and career counseling for the youth in his community. Despite facing personal challenges and discrimination, Naveed has remained rooted in Karachi’s Akhtar Colony, where he was born, got married, and raised his children. His commitment to his community and identity shines through, emphasizing his dedication to representing and living among the people he serves.

Naveed’s political journey began in 2005 when the PPP gave him a ticket in Karachi’s local government election. He contested as a vice-chairman from his native Akhtar Colony. He went on to become a special assistant to the Sindh chief minister in 2016. In 2018, the PPP chose him as a reserved seat candidate in the Sindh Assembly where he was the lone Christian legislator.

“I am grateful to the PPP leadership, especially [party chief] Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, for nominating me for this coveted position,” Naveed told Christian Daily International on the phone from Karachi.

“The PPP is the only political party that is taking concrete steps to protect the rights of all minorities, including the Christian community, and empowering them socially, politically and economically,” he said.

As the custodian of the house, Naveed said he would try his best to use this opportunity to lobby the support of the majority lawmakers to address the challenges facing the religious minorities of the province.

Lauding the PPP’s decision to nominate and elect Naveed, Christian rights activists said this would help in alleviating the sense of deprivation in the marginalized community.

“It’s good to see Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari fulfilling his promise of giving religious minorities an equal opportunity to grow in the socio-political sphere. By nominating Anthony Naveed, the PPP has lived up to the expectations of the minority communities and we hope that the other mainstream political parties will follow its example,” said Minorities Alliance Pakistan Chairman Akmal Bhatti.

Rights activist Napolean Qayyum also welcomed Naveed’s election and said this had paved the way for the political mainstreaming of the Christian community.

“We hope that all political parties would also consider giving tickets to their Christian members for contesting the election on general seats in constituencies where we have a sizeable vote bank. Christian legislators will be in a better position to solve the problems facing their communities because they understand the issues much better than their Muslim counterparts,” he said.

Republished from Christian Daily International.