–Politically influenced appointments in ETPB concerned about their future
–Sikh community expresses reservations over a ‘Hindu’s name’ for slot
–Vankwani says if appointed, will not be biased towards any other religion or sect
LAHORE: Hindu minority member of the National Assembly, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, has been proposed as the new chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to sources, the procedure for the appointment of the new ETPB chairman is nearing completion and it has raised several questions as well as a wave of distress among several employees of the ETPB.
An official of ETPB, on the condition of anonymity, informed Pakistan Today that previously, during the tenure of Siddiqul Farooq and Asif Hashmi, several politically influenced appointments were made and those employees, at present, were worried about their future if Vankwani took the reins of the board.
Sources, while speaking about Vankwani, said that initially, he was not interested to take up the chairmanship and had proposed a few other names for the post, but the PTI high ups want to appoint him due to his honesty.
Vankwani was a member of the National Assembly from June 2013 to May 2018 and a member of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh from 2002 to 2007. He was elected to the National Assembly once again in 2018. Vankwani has done Bachelors of Medicine and Bachelors of Surgery and is a well-read man.
Recently, a controversy regarding the appointment of a Hindu chairman of ETPB also erupted where the Sikhs expressed reservations and wrote a letter to the prime minister that they would not accept an ETPB chief who was a Hindu. The Sikh community of Pakistan wrote that around 90 per cent of the income ETPB generated was because of the Gurdawara lands that belonged to the Sikhs whereas they mentioned that the board generated income through the pilgrimage of the Sikhs to their holy sites in the country.
Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee President Tara Singh also showed his concerns over the matter and said that the Sikh community did not have any grievances with the Hindus but they were more in population and their holy sites were here in Pakistan, therefore, the chairman should be from the Sikh community.
Tara Singh further said that the Sikh community would be holding a press conference in which representatives from the Hindu community, including Manohar Chand and Arun Kumar, will also participate, to show that the Sikhs have no issues with the Hindus but the board chairman should be from the Sikh community.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani said that he was not aware of any such developments as he was in Tharparkar. “No Sikh is against me except for a few. If we talk about the population, there are only 16,000 Sikh in Pakistan whereas there are almost 8 million Hindus here. Then if it comes to the properties, then those of Hindus are more which they left here before partition and temples are also more in number than the Gurudwaras here in Pakistan.”
He said the people who were against his appointment feared his honesty. “They know that I am capable of curbing the menaces of corruption and land mafia. I know that if I get the seat, I will recover the revenue of almost Rs5 billion by June 2020. I will involve judiciary as well as NAB and other investigation authorities in all the complaints and matters that are to be resolved so that there is transparency,” Vankwani added.
He further said that if he was offered this position by the government, he would not be biased towards any other religion or sect and would work for the betterment of the ETPB and for the greater interests of the country.