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Pakistani Christians Fear Amendment could Limit Parliament Seats Reserved for Religious Minorities

ICC Note:

The government of Pakistan proposed to introduce the term ‘Non-Muslims’ in an amendment in reference to the seats reserved in parliament for minorities. Previously, the term used was, “Reserved seats for Christians, Hindus, Ahmadi, Sikh and others,” the Pakistan Christian Post reports.

7/18/2012 Pakistan (Pakistan Christian Post) – Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC said here in a press statement that government is hatching conspiracy to introduce a term ‘Non-Muslims” in forthcoming amendment in constitution for increase in reserved seats for minorities in parliament instead of previously term used “Reserved seats for Christians, Hindus, Ahmadi, Sikh and others” to scratch Identity of 20 million Pakistani Christians.

It will be noted that in same way: 4th Amendment in constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan to declare Ahmadi Muslims to be non-Muslims by ZA Bhutto’s PPP government led to widespread violence against Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan.

Nazir Bhatti said “We warn committee comprising of Khurshid Shah, Farooq Naik and Paul Bhatti to refrain from excluding word “Minorities” and including word “Non-Muslims” in the Bill which they are preparing for increase in reserved seats in parliament to present in next meeting of cabinet and then for legislation in National assembly of Pakistan”

“We urge Committee members to classify numbers of seats in bill allocated for Christians, Hindus, Ahmadiyya and other religious minorities as it was in constitution of 1973 of Islamic Republic of Pakistan instead of including word non-Muslims” added Nazir Bhatti

There was ministry named “Religious and Minorities Affairs” in federation of Pakistan since independence of Pakistan in 1947, but on demand of Pakistani Christians, the Minorities Affairs Ministry became an independent portfolio in 2000.

Under 18th Amendment of constitution, the Minorities Ministry came under devolution but none of provincial government restored it with name of Minority Ministry.

Late Shahbaz Bhatti remained silent on devolution of Minority Affairs Ministry which he chaired but Christian organization launched agitation on which government of Pakistan commissioned a new ministry named National Harmony Ministry which is now occupied by his brother Paul Bhatti.

The government has declared 4% seats increase in National Assembly of Pakistan and provincial assemblies claiming it proportional to population of non-Muslims.

Nazir Bhatti said that Pakistani Christians have reservations on claims of 4% because minorities are 13% of Population of Pakistan.

In constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan: In 1973, 10 seats were allocated for minorities which were classified as 4 for Christians, 4 for Hindus, 1 for Ahamdiyyia and 1 for other religious communities which remained same in 1985,when 8th amendment was introduced in constitution. The total seats of National assembly were 132 in 1973, which rose to 240 in 1985 but minorities seats remained on figure of 10.

Nazir Bhatti said that in present assembly Christians have 2 seats; Hindus have 8 seats while Ahmadiyya community has no representation.

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