Punjab to implement 2 per cent quota for minority students
Quotas will give minority students greater access to higher education and allow them to qualify for better paying jobs. Priests and activists want to see the law enforced, not just “remain on paper.”
Lahore (AsiaNews) – Christian, Hindu and Sikh and other religious minority students will be entitled to 2 per cent quota in Punjab universities as part of the Punjab Minorities Empowerment Package.
A bill to that end was introduced in February 2019 by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), with a 5 per cent quota. Even with a lower percentage, minority students will have the same opportunities in the admission policy by higher educational institutions.
Minorities in Pakistan face many forms of discrimination. Christians and churches have often seen their land and churches seized; Hindus suffer as a result of tensions between India and Pakistan and minority women and girls are often the victims of abductions and forced conversions.
In the name of justice, Pakistan’s central government reserved a 5 per cent share in employment to counter joblessness among minorities. It adopted a law to that effect on 26 May 2009. However, he latter has been applied intermittently by provincial governments. The minority quota often goes unfilled, especially for the most qualified positions.
For Fr Kamran Ghouri Daniel, from the Diocese of Islamabad, the decision by the Punjab government “is the best way to help minorities climb the social ladder through education".
He also thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government calling on them to ensure that "this law is applied and not just remain on paper.”
Asif Aqeel, a journalist and a member of an association that supports minority rights, calls this decision "historic" as it "will enhance the well-being of religious minorities, especially Christians, Sikhs and Hindus.”
In his view, support for the law by Punjab’s Minorities and Human Rights Minster Ejaz Augustine was important.
Cecil Chaudhry, executive director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, describes the decision as "encouraging" and "very positive". However, he would like to see the government ensure that the law is actually applied and that job quotas are enforced as they are often not applied in the "right spirit".