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ICC Note: Christians in southern Pakistan have welcomed the election of Anthony Naveed, a well-known minority rights activist. It is hoped that his representation will bring greater equality to Christians in the Pakistani government in Sindh. Across Pakistan, Christians face widespread discrimination and are essentially treated like second-class citizens.

08/09/2018 Pakistan (The News International) – Last week a large number of Christians gathered outside a church to greet Anthony Naveed, a well-known minority rights activist and a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader, for his election to a reserved minority seat in the Sindh Assembly.

“We thank the PPP leadership, especially [party chief] Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, for making Naveed an MPA,” said Aslam Masih, a 55-year-old resident of Karachi’s low-income Akhtar Colony.

“He [Naveed] lives with us and understands our issues. He has been resolving our issues since the past several years, and hopefully he will now do so from the floor of the Sindh Assembly.” Naveed, who was elected Naib Nazim (deputy councilor) for the Akhtar Colony union council in the 2005 local government polls, actively advocates the rights of minorities across the city.

“I thank the party leadership for sending me to Parliament, where I’ll try my best to promote the rights of various non-Muslim communities living across the province,” he told The News. Naveed, who is the Sindh information secretary of the PPP’s minority wing, also served as special assistant to the chief minister on interfaith harmony for six months. A man of humble origins, he is the provincial cabinet’s only member who works at a textile factory.

“The PPP is the only political party that is taking concrete steps to protect the rights of all minorities, including the Christian community, and empowering them socially, politically and economically.” Naveed said he will try to implement the decision of reserving five per cent of the job quota for religious minorities, which can help marginalized people raise their standards of living. “Because of British-era Christian family laws, the community has been suffering a lot. I’ll legislate about it.”

He said he will also try to resolve other key issues Christians are facing, such as graveyard shortage and absence of a special residential scheme, as well as provide relief in admission in academic institutions.

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