ISLAMABAD: The Standing Committee of National Assembly on Law and Justice will take up today (Monday) important constitutional amendment bills for increasing minority member seats and allocation of seats for the disabled in parliament and provincial assemblies.
Constitutional amendment bills have been moved by Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) regarding increase in minority seats, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Dr Kishwar Zehra for allocation of seats for disabled people in the federal and provincial legislative bodies of the country.
Presently, under article 51(4) of the constitution, 10 seats are reserved for non-Muslims in the National Assembly whereas three seats are reserved for them in Balochistan Assembly, three in KPK, eight in Punjab and nine seats in the Sindh Assembly. However, no seat is reserved for disabled people in the National or any provincial assembly of the country.
According to the bill of Dr Ramesh Kumar, 10 seats for non-Muslims were reserved when the total strength of 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.
The bill noted that minority community of the country strongly feels that their representation in the National and provincial assemblies might be increase according to the proportion to the population of non-Muslims.
It also points out that due to party system, the minority community has no say about who occupies the 10 reserved seats in the assembly. Instead, the seats become a tool for victorious parties to pick their favourites.
Moreover, there is a fragile relationship between those selected on reserved seats and those who are active members of the community.
Realising the sentiments of minority communities in Pakistan, it is time to end the party list system, the bill said. Emphasising to change the election criteria of reserved seats for non-Muslims, it also calls for giving non-Muslims right to cast double vote.
For election on reserved seats for non-Muslims, the delimitation of constituencies may be made on divisional basis by the Election Commission of Pakistan. The number of divisions included in each constituency shall be on basis of non-Muslims population to make a total of 15 constituencies for the National Assembly, the bill says.
Dr Kishwar Zehra stated that presently parliament is representing all segments of society “except disabled people, due to which their voice is not properly raised”.
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