Govt mulling new ministry to look after minorities’ affairs | Pakistan Today

Govt mulling new ministry to look after minorities’ affairs

The government is considering forming a new ministry to address the grievances of minorities following the devolution of the Ministry of Minority Affairs and a summary has been moved to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat for approval. A source told Pakistan Today that State Minister for Minority Affairs Akram Masih Gill had submitted a proposal with the Prime Minister’s Secretariat for the creation of a new ministry under the name of Ministry of Non-Muslim Affairs and Interfaith Harmony that could address the grievances of about two million people of minority groups.
All elected members of the minorities, headed by Minority Affairs State Minister Akram Masih Gill, had staged a sit-in on the floor of the National Assembly on the eve of the passage of the Finance Bill 2011-12 against the devolution of the Ministry of Minorities Affairs, forcing the prime minister to warn Gill of ending the sit-in or face sacking.
Earlier, a group of the minorities’ parliamentarians had also lodged a protest with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani against the devolution, claiming the ministry was not on the concurrent list, therefore, there was no point to devolve it. Akram Masih Gill said the prime minister had assured the delegation that the government would review the application after seeking expert opinion from legal experts, especially Senator Wasim Sajjad.“The prime minister was very sympathetic towards our arguments and assured us that he would find a way out,” he added.
Gill said the people from minorities already had a sense of deprivation due to devolution of their ministry and the federal government needed to form a ministry to look after the affairs of around two million Pakistanis from minority groups. “A minority MNA has to seek votes from across the country, which is why a ministry is needed at the federal level to look after minority affairs. Moreover, this ministry was also not on the concurrent list and only its part, the Evacuee Trust Property Board, was on the concurrent list. Interestingly, the Implementation Commission ordered to keep the Evacuee Trust Property Board, which was on the concurrent list and was to be transferred to provinces, while the ministry, which was not on the list, is being devolved,” he added.
He said there were assets of Hindu and Sikh communities under the evacuee trust board which needed to be looked after by the provinces and the federal government was not meant to be dealing with the same. Gill said Gilani was told 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.
He said it was puzzling that Rs 150 million had been allocated to the Religious Affairs Ministry that was being devolved to the provinces.

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