The government on Monday moved the 23rd constitutional amendment bill in the National Assembly to pass a law on the cabinet’s decision regarding the enhancement of minorities’ seats in the Lower House as well as in the provincial assemblies.
The bill, called The Constitutional (Twenty-Third) Amendment Act 2012, was moved in the House by Law Minister Farooq Naik. As the bill was not opposed by anyone, Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi sent it to the committee concerned for deliberation.
This amendment contains the proposal to enhance four seats for minorities in the National Assembly while the seats reserved for minorities in provincial assemblies shall be increased to various numbers.
Once this bill is passed and the constitution is further amended, number of seats for minorities in National Assembly shall increase to 14.
For the provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, the number of seats for minorities will increase to 10, 12, four and four respectively.
Consequently total seats for the Punjab Assembly will rise to 373, for Sindh 171 seats, for KP 125 seats and Balochistan the figure will increase to a total 66 seats.
Dilating upon the amendment, the law minister said, under Article 36 of the Constitution, the state is obliged to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities and presently under Article 51(4), 10 seats are reserved for non-Muslims in National Assembly.
Regarding the seats for non-Muslims in the provincial assemblies, the minister said, three seats each were reserved for non-Muslims in provincial assemblies of Balochistan and KP while eight in Punjab and nine seats were reserved for minorities in the Sindh Assembly.