Religious Minorities demand for direct elections for their representatives. While attending a two-day workshop on ‘minorities’ participation in local government.’ This workshop was organized by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), which was attended by representatives of different faiths.
During the workshop, the elected representatives of minorities in the local government system from several districts of Punjab urged for direct elections for their representatives in all tiers of government. At the concluding session of the workshop, several representatives of minorities present at this workshop recommended for direct elections as a prime need of the hours. Recently elected Minority counselors hailing from Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Lahore and Sargodha attended this workshop.
These minorities representatives urged the concerned authorities to transfer power from the district coordination officers to district chairmen so that the local government may function effectively. “For smooth working of the local government and better cooperation among the different tiers of government, political parties should make it mandatory for their MPAs and MNAs to hold regular consultations with the local government representatives from religious minorities at the district level,” they said.
At the same time, they whined about several other problems faced by the minorities. They said that the minorities’ communities face great problems such as lack of places to bury the dead as well as lack of worship places. They demanded that the government must allocate more places for burial and worship. They maintained that as the population of minorities have increased, therefore, the burial places and worship places are not enough to serve the expanding population.
They demanded that the local government must be bestowed with the authority to allocate places of burial and worship to minorities communities at district levels. They said that due to increase in population, minorities communities need more places for worship and burial. Moreover, they demanded that land mafia has seized several places of worship, they said that government must take efficacious steps in order to retrieve the seized lands belonging to minorities.
Further whining about their problems they said that due to lack of welfare funds, no real development of minorities is possible. They demanded that the welfare institutions at the district levels such as the Baitul Maal Committee should distribute funds among the deserving minority members. They demanded that these funds must be disbursed based on recommendations of minority representatives in the local government. They said that minority communities must have access to the welfare funds.
Bakhsh, Madeeha. Lahore: Minorities demand for direct elections for their representatives, places for worship and burial. Christians in Pakistan, January 12, 2017.