NA panel takes bill on non-Muslim reserved seats today


ISLAMABAD: A National Assembly panel will take up an important constitutional amendment bill to enhance the seats reserved for non-Muslims in the House from existing ten to sixteen, today (Monday).
The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 moved by JUI-F’s minority member Asiya Nasir, with the support of other members of minority community as well as her party’s legislators, is the fresh attempt of the minority community’s members to raise their strength in the Lower House of parliament. A similar kind of bill by Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani regarding increase in minority seats was discussed in the Standing Committee on Law and Justice, but it is still lingering.
Under article 51(4) of the constitution, 10 seats are reserved for non-Muslims in the National Assembly. They were reserved when the total strength of the National Assembly was 207. But when the strength of National Assembly members rose to 272 for directly elected members, the number of reserved seats for non-Muslims remained the same. As the population of the minorities also rose in the country, the present strength of their representatives is not reflective of their population in the National Assembly.
“Due to less representation compared to population, the non-Muslims’ population is confronting several problems in the country,” the bill stated. The 19-member assembly standing committee is headed by PML-N’s Mahmood Bashir Virk and has representation from all the parliamentary groups in the House as per their strength in the House. It is worth mentioning that a similar type of attempt was also made in the previous PPP government in the National Assembly, but it could not yield result. 

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