Lahore, Feb. 9 (ANI): Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had promised in December that there would be five reserved seats for minority representatives in the Senate, but that promise remains unfulfilled, disappointing minority groups in the country.
Representatives of various minorities groups told the Daily Times that the matter is not being taken seriously. As no legislation has been made so far-- there is no chance of religious minorities entering the Senate before 2012, they claimed.
"Religious minorities feel isolated because the political system has not matured enough to maintain a secular stance for representation in the legislature, irrespective of caste, colour or creed," former Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee president Sardar Bishan Singh said, adding that minorities should be given reserved seats according to their percentage in the population.
The Senate of Pakistan has 100 members. 14 members each come from all the assemblies, while four seats each are reserved for women and technocrats. Eight members are directly elected from FATA.
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Kanwar Dilshad said there were no reserved seats for religious minorities. He said the ECP would comply with any legislation made for minority representation. However, he said no such legislation was currently in place.
Pakistan Hindu Council General Secretary Hari Motwani said, "If the government makes a legislation granting minorities reserved seats in the Senate, it will project a positive image of the country abroad."
Government sources of the paper claimed that parliamentarians were unwilling to pass a bill to the effect and had pressured the government to not table such a bill.
However, Pakistan's Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti said a draft of a bill granting reserved seats in the Senate to minorities had been finalised and would soon be presented in the National Assembly.
"PM has not specified a date for the reserved seats, and the minorities would be granted these seats in the 2012 Senate election," he said. (ANI)