05/29/2009, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Pakistani Premier: minority quota to be extended to the provinces

by Qaiser Felix
Gilani promises approval of law that fixes 5% of posts in public services to minorities. It will be extended to all semi-government departments in the provinces. The Prime Minister invokes support in a common battle against Islamic fundamentalism. A Catholic Priest expresses his appreciation for the government’s commitment but urges young people to “count on their own capabilities”.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ensured “the five% quota in government jobs for minoritieseven “across the provinces”. He was addressing a minority’s solidarity convention in Islamabad. He also appealed for support in the “battle against extremists” and expressed his appreciation of the “role played by minorities in strengthening the nation”.

Gilani said he “will ensure the implementation of 5%of jobs quota for minorities” adding it would be extended to “the semi-government departments and provinces”. The Premier also spoke of the ongoing war in Swat asking “The entire nation including minorities” to “stand up to the challenge, confront these terrorists with a strong determination and crush them”.  He also recalled the will of Pakistan’s founding father, Ali Jinnah, that all Pakistanis should be “equal in rights without the discrimination of caste, creed and colour”.

Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, National Director, National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) said job quota is a “very positive step” because it gives “access to non-Muslims to high government jobs”. Speaking to AsiaNews on the meetings sidelines he encourages young people not to count on the quota, but to “also compete on open merit”.

Promises of laws to safeguard the rights of minorities have been made in the past, but never carried through.  Premier Gilani has said the government is “firmly” committed to the approval of the law.  “The Prime Minister – comments Fr. Mani –sounded very positive and genuine. We are optimistic that non-Muslims will have this opportunity”. The priest concludes by underlining that “now it is our duty to pay attention and make the implementation possible; Now this our turn”.

 

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