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KARACHI: A rights group representing non-Muslim communities demanded a separate electorate for religious minorities on Monday.

Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, Minorities Alliance Pakistan representatives spoke about their grievances and declared the National Minority Day a ‘black day’ saying the minorities were still being persecuted in the country.

Wearing black armbands, Sardar Ramesh Singh of the Pakistan Sikh Council and former lawmaker Michael Javed demanded a separate electorate for the non-Muslim communities so that they could choose their own leaders. “We have been sidelined for a long time. We ask for a separate electorate so that as members of a minority community we empower our own people to vote for us without being dependent on anyone else,” said Mr Javed.

Referring to attacks on three Sikh traders in Peshawar, Mr Ramesh said: “Jagmohan Singh’s death among the three who were attacked is a testament to the worsening situation for the minorities across the country. It is the same ball game everywhere. Traders and businessmen are not spared. The killing of Ashok Kumar Maali and Heera Lal Maali is a recent example of a targeted attack in Sindh. An MPA was attacked by his own guard in Quetta, Balochistan. Also, at the state level, there is no genuine representation of minorities anywhere.”

Published in Dawn, August 12th , 2014