A group of the parliamentarians from minorities on Friday lodged a protest with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani against the devolution of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, claiming the ministry was not on the concurrent list, therefore, there was no point to devolve it.
A source told Pakistan Today that the prime minister assured the delegation that the government would make a decision after seeking opinion from legal experts and Senator Wasim Sajjad would also be approached in this regard.
State Minister for Minorities Affairs Akram Masih Gill led the delegation consisting of members of both Houses of parliament. The delegates told Gilani that the Evacuee Trust Property Board, a subsidiary of the ministry, was enlisted in the concurrent list which was already with the provinces, the source added.
The parliamentarians submitted a joint representation to the prime minister and requested him that the national character of minorities be kept intact.
“The MPs told Gilani that no schools or other institutions were being run by the ministry, which was only a policymaking body and there was no need for it to be transferred to the provinces. Moreover, the Implementation Commission Chairman Raza Rabbani was hell bent to devolve the ministry but his argument had no legal point,” the delegation members said.
They said if the Religious Affairs Ministry was not devolved to the provinces, what was the point of devolving the Minorities’ Ministry, which only a budget of Rs 150 million.
“However, if the government plans to devolve our ministry, a new ministry should be formed named the ministry of interfaith harmony and non-Muslim affairs, so that it could look after the deprived minorities,” the source quoted the delegates as saying.
Gilani said Pakistan had guaranteed rights of the minorities in the constitution.
He said he considered minorities his own constituency and would make sure that their rights were protected.
The prime minister acknowledged the contributions of the people belonging to the minorities for national progress and development.
Gilani said his government had taken a number of measures to protect the rights of minorities.
The parliamentarians thanked the prime minister for his keen interest in the uplift scheme for the welfare of minorities.