Right to Political Participation


The right to political participation is a fundamental aspect of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR). It refers to the right of individuals to take part in the political process, both directly and indirectly, without discrimination, and to have a genuine opportunity to contribute to the governance and decision-making of their country.

The CCPR, particularly in Article 25, enshrines the right to political participation. It entails several key elements:

Right to Vote

Individuals have the right to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and held by secret ballot, ensuring the free expression of the will of the electorate.

Access to Public Service

The right to political participation includes the opportunity for all citizens to have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in their country.

Freedom of Political Opinion and Expression

It safeguards the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, through any media of one’s choice. This freedom is crucial for individuals to form and express their political opinions and participate in public discourse.

Political Association and Assembly

Individuals have the right to form and join political parties or other political groups and to assemble peacefully without unwarranted interference.


The right to political participation should be exercised without discrimination based on race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.

The right to political participation is integral to the principles of democracy and the rule of law. It enables individuals to contribute to public affairs, have a say in decision-making processes, and hold their representatives accountable.

Governments that are parties to the ICCPR are obligated to create an enabling environment for the exercise of the right to political participation, protect individuals and groups from any form of discrimination or undue restrictions, and guarantee the effective realization of these rights for all citizens.

Constitution of Pakistan

Article 17 of the Constitution of Pakistan gives right to every citizen ―to form association or unions. It further states, “every citizen, not being in service of Pakistan, shall have a right to be a member of a political party”. Since vote is an expression of opinion therefore, it is guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973. The Article states, “every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression …”. Moreover, Article 106 (2) of the constitution states categorically that a person shall be entitled to vote if:

a) he is a citizen of Pakistan;
b) he is not less than eighteen years of age;
c) his name appears on the electoral roll for any area in the Province; and
d) he is not declared by a competent court to be of unsound mind

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