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ISLAMABAD: Convener of the World Minorities Alliance J Salik on Tuesday urged the government to ensure minorities’ representation in elected bodies through a direct vote in the general elections instead of proportionate representation.

Addressing a press conference, the former federal minister for population welfare said it was the need of the hour and important for the country as Pakistan is a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Minorities’ Rights declaration and protocols to provide fundamental rights to the marginalized segments of its society.

Salik said, “The Article 226 of the Constitution has been violated in all of the elections leaving every parliament elected as unconstitutional.” He reiterated that the minorities’ alliance wanted the support of all stakeholders for direct elections of minorities’ representatives.

The 18th Amendment was passed without minorities’ representation, whereas, the amendment could not change the basic structure of the Constitution. But this time, minorities should be considered to review the legislation and provide representation through direct vote, he added.

He underlined that there were some 60 seats of the National Assembly reserved for women and 10 for minorities who were elected through proportionate representation which was unconstitutional.

Salik further said that the Supreme Court’s full bench comprising 17 judges on August 5, 2015, in their dissenting notes and directed the federal government to fill reserved minority seats by direct election and through minorities’ votes.

“Throughout my political career, I contested elections and won from all federating units. There are no corruption or misappropriation allegations leveled against me. I started my journey from the grassroots level. I got detained for seven times during Zia’s dictatorship for restoration of democracy,” he added.

Salik said that the upcoming elections should be held as per the constitution, whereas, it was his responsibility through the platform of the Minorities’ Alliance to guide stakeholders to ensure minorities’ rights and proper representation in the legislature.

“Pakistan gives rights to all minorities but unluckily there are no nationalism promotion efforts in the country. Some 28 national centres were sold in the past that were used to support and promote nationalism in society. No nation on the earth exists without nationalism be it Iran, Oman, Qatar, the US, UK, or others,” he added.

While giving a reference of a famous saying of the founder of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Salik said “Quaid said minorities are the sacred trust of Pakistan.” Minorities in Pakistan want to elect their representatives directly as per the democratic norms on our 10 reserved seats. There should be a limit and we should put an end to the elections of billionaires back in the parliament, Salik added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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