PA moved for imparting compulsory religious education to minority students


–Minority MPA’s bill proposes religious education to non-Muslim students from grades I to V

–MPAs from treasury benches pledge support to opp’s bill


LAHORE: With the Punjab Assembly unanimously passing a bill making Quranic teachings compulsory in all educational institutions of the province, a minority Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) has submitted a bill demanding compulsory religious education for non-Muslims at primary level (grades I to V) according to their respective religion, Pakistan Today has learnt.

As per the details, Shunila Ruth of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who got elected on a seat reserved for non-Muslims, has submitted “The Punjab Compulsory Religious Education to Non-Muslims According To Their Respective Religions Bill 2018” in the assembly secretariat, in which she has demanded to make imparting religious education to minorities students – studying in both public and private sector schools – compulsory.

It is worth mentioning here that the “Punjab Compulsory Teaching of the Holy Quran Bill” that was passed on Friday in the house was moved by an MPA of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Dr Syed Waseem Akhtar. In the said bill he demanded compulsory Quranic education for Muslim students from grades I to XII.

“We have taken a step for the non-Muslim children of this province as primary education plays an important role in shaping the overall character of people and we can introduce certain amendments as well in the bill once it is passed in the house to broaden its spectrum to grade XII,” Ruth said while adding that she had taken on board other minority MPAs of the province for the bill.

“All the MPAs of my party including the opposition leader have assured their support to me as the bill will address all the non-Muslim communities of the province, she commented. “I wanted to move a resolution on this issue but the speaker asked me to bring a bill,” Ruth said, who is also a member of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Minorities Affairs of the Punjab Assembly and hails from the Christian community.

Another MPA representing minorities in the PA, Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora, who sits on the treasury benches told Pakistan Today that the Punjab government always tried to ensure equal rights for the minorities as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan and therefore they would also support the said bill once it was brought in the house. “People witnessed history in the Punjab Assembly as the house unanimously passed ‘The Punjab Anand Karaj Bill’ regulating Sikh marriages with the support of the opposition benches,” Arora said, who is the only Sikh MPA from Punjab ever since the partition of the Sub-Continent.

“Whenever anything related to minorities is proposed in the house, it is supported by both the opposition and treasury benches,” he said and added that Ruth’s bill would also be supported despite the fact that a member of opposition would be the mover.