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March 17, 2019

70-year-old demand fulfilled with minority package: minister


March 17, 2019

LAHORE : The opening of Kartarpur corridor to facilities the Sikh pilgrims to visit the birthplace of their guru Baba Nanak and the release of Aasia Bibi by Supreme Court of Pakistan shows that Pakistan is a minority-friendly country, said Punjab Minister for Human Rights and Minority Affairs Ijaz Alam Augustine in an interview with The News.

“With the Minority Empowerment Package, we have fulfilled the demands of minorities for which they had longed for the last 70 years,” the minister said.

First time in the history of Pakistan, Christmas was celebrated officially in the country and Holi festival would be observed under the patronage of the government, he said. The minster said that he would visit Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan to attend the Holi festival as most of Hindu population lived there.

According to him, minorities are safe in the country under the leadership of prime minster. Under the vision of PM Imran Khan, former Punjab Information Minster Fayyazul Hassan Chohan was removed from his ministry after anti-Hindu remarks, Ijaz Alam said.

The district committees for protection of human rights have been constituted by the Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department. The committees will check police stations, schools and hospitals to monitor human rights violation across Punjab.

He told The News that the five per cent job quota for minorities could not be utilised because the candidates did not have required educational qualifications. “In view of that, we held a consultation meeting and announced Minority Empower Package which included implementation of job and education quotas, sentence remission system, skill development trainings, quota in the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme and religious education in government schools for children from various faiths,” the minister said.

“To monitor hate material, our representative will be in Punjab Curriculum Textbook Board. We are also focusing on skills development and have allocated Rs25 million for scholarships. We are also working on the development and housing schemes specifically for the minority community,” he said.

According to him, education is top priority of PTI’s government and the educational institutions of minorities nationalised in the past would be returned to the minorities in phases. Murray College, Sialkot and Gordon College, Rawalpindi, will be handed over to the minorities, he added. The security of churches is responsibility of the government, he said, adding that no church would be closed over security reasons. He said licences would be issued to the churches for security.

He said no unpleasant incident happened in Punjab during the six months which shows security situation had improved in the province.

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