The decision to reserve 5% of federal jobs and additional seats in the national and provincial assemblies for minorities is proof of the government’s commitment to them.
This was said by Prime Minister (PM) Raja Pervez Ashraf on Saturday. He was addressing a Christmas function at Fatima Church in Sector F-8/4.
These changes will be implemented once the National Assembly (NA) passes the 23rd constitutional amendment bill tabled on December 17.
After the amendment, the number of reserved seats for minorities in the NA will increase from 10 to 14.
The number of reserved seats for minorities in Punjab assembly will go up from eight to 10 (out of a total of 373 seats), in Sindh from nine to 12 (total 171 seats), in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa from three to four (total 125 seats) and in Balochistan from three to four (total 66 seats).
PM Ashraf said the government is committed to protecting minority rights. He urged the followers of every religion to stand together and promote shared values of compassion, moderation, tolerance and love.
“Our government has proposed inter-faith dialogue as a long term measure for achieving sustainable peace and harmony,” he said, adding, “We cannot let a few extremists [trying to sow seeds of suspicion] attack our shared values.”
School children on the occasion sang Christmas carols. The prime minister also cut a cake, wishing Christians a merry Christmas on behalf of the government and the people.
PM Ashraf also commended the services of late Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated in March 2011 while he was the minister for minorities affairs.
He was an outspoken critic of the blasphemy law in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2012.