PESHAWAR: The representatives of Christian and Hindu communities in a consultative meeting here on Saturday asked the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led provincial government to take practical steps for the solution of their problems so that they could also play their role in the development of Pakistan.
They observed that they had been raising their voice for 65 years, but successive governments had paid lip-service to their problems and done nothing to remove the sense of deprivation among the minorities.
Calling themselves non-Muslim Pakistanis, the minorities’ representatives deplored that the past governments always treated them as second-class citizens and never paid serious attention to their problems such as provision of jobs, admissions in educational institutions and ensuring their religious rights.
Minority MPA in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Frederick Azeem Ghori, All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (APHRM) Chairman Haroon Sarab Diyal and Church World Service of Pakistan representative Kashif Faruki argued that the government should enhance minorities’ quota in educational and government institutions for their better future.
Frederick Azeem Ghori said he had been highlighting the problems being faced by the minorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but the government was least bothered to redress their grievances.
He said in the past the jobs quota for minorities in various departments was zero but the PTI government announced three percent quota for them, adding that it needed to be enhanced to five percent.
“The government is giving at least Rs70 million to its lawmakers and the minority MPAs are given Rs10 million only. It is insufficient for welfare of the people,” he said. He added that of the 1,120 seats in all the 11 government-run medical colleges there was only one seat for minorities.
He said the Peshawar High Court (PHC) had already directed the government to increase the admission quota but the order was yet to be implemented. He said the government was trying to nationalise the Edwardes College Peshawar, but any attempt to do so would cause serious implications.
Kashif Faruki said that efforts were made to develop liaison with the members of parliament, media and representatives of different communities to pave the way for legislation to protect the rights of the minorities.
The main issues, he said, included marriage legislation, Hindu Marriage Act and Voters Registration, adding that none of their rights were accepted despite long their struggle.
Haroon Sarab Diyal said that Hindus were more vulnerable and had been struggling to get the right of obtaining computerised national identity cards, domicile, divorce and death certificates and marriage agreement papers.
He said the Hindus and Sikh living in parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas were the worst affected as they were not given these documents and were forced to prepare fake documents.
The majority of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), he said, had been deprived of the relief items. He asked for increase in scholarships for minority students, hostel facilities and dowry funds.