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ISLAMABAD, July 25: There are 3.72 per cent non-Muslims in the country; however their representation in parliament is only 2.92 per cent. Minorities are being treated as second class citizens and there is no official policy to check discrimination against minorities in the private sector.  

It was stated by Chairman Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) Rana Bhagwandas during ‘Seminar on Electoral System of Pakistan with reference to non-Muslims,’ organised by Ministry of National Harmony.

Minister in-charge for National Harmony Dr Paul Bhatti, Member of National Assembly Dr Mahesh Malani and other leaders of minorities also participated in the event.

Chairman FPSC Rana Bhagwandas said that the role of minorities in Pakistan’s electoral system has always been challenging. At the moment non-Muslims are not allowed to hold some public offices including seat of President and Prime Minister. Discrimination in the name of religion continues.

He suggested that minorities have a right to legally practice their customs. Reserved seats in parliament should also be increased, he added.

Dr Mahesh Malani said that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) does not believe in discrimination of people. He said that right of separate vote for the minorities is another form of discrimination and against the vision of his party.

“I contested a direct election against Shaukat Aziz and lost against him but still I got more respect in the constituency as compared to a former PM,” he said.

He said that in the local government system, separate seats were allocated for minorities due to which problems for them (minorities) increased.

Kamran Michel, a prominent leader of the Christian community said that there are so many constituencies all over the country in which over 20 per cent voters belong to minorities. He suggested that political parties should give tickets to people belonging to minorities.

“Benazir Bhutto was in favour of right of double vote to the people belonging to minorities and he also announced that she will give them right of double vote,” he said.

During question answer session, participants raised questions about unfairness in census. They alleged that during census thousands of non-Muslims were included in voter list as Muslims. They stressed that original number of non-Muslims should be confirmed.