Government moves 23rd amendment bill to enhance minorities’ seats
ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday moved the 23rd constitutional amendment bill in the National Assembly to pass a law on the cabinet’s decision regarding enhancement of minorities’ seats in the Lower House of parliament as well as provincial assemblies.
The bill, called “Constitutional (Twenty-Third) Amendment Act 2012”, was moved to the House by Law Minister Farooq H Naek. As the bill was not opposed, Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi sent it to the relevant committee of the House for deliberation. This amendment contains the proposal to add four more seats for minorities in the National Assembly, while the seats reserved for minorities in provincial assemblies shall be increased to different numbers.
Once this bill is passed and the constitution is further amended, number of seats for minorities in National Assembly shall increase to 14. For the provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, once the amendment is adopted the number of seats for minorities will increase to 10, 12, 4 and 4, respectively. Consequently, total seats for Punjab Assembly will rise to 373; 171 for Sindh; 125 for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and in Balochistan the figure will rise to total 66 seats.
Dilating upon the amendment, Farooq Naek said that under the Article 36 of the constitution, the state is obliged to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities and presently under Article 51 (4), ten seats are reserved for non-Muslims in the National Assembly.
As regards seats for non-Muslims in the provincial assemblies, the minister said, three seats each are reserved for them in the provincial assemblies of Balochistan and KP, eight in Punjab and nine seats are reserved for minorities in the Sindh Assembly. He said there had been a persistent demand of the minorities to increase seats reserved for them since their population had increased with the passage of time.