National Assembly rejects bill that opens highest state offices to minorities

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Islamabad: In last days The National Assembly of Pakistan rejected a bill that would have given members of minorities the possibility of being elected to the highest offices of the state.

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A Christian member of the Pakistan People’s Party, Naveed Aamir Jeeva presented the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019, which would have repealed Articles 41 and 91 of the Constitution, thus allowing non-Muslims to become prime minister and president of Pakistan.

Only a Muslim 45 years and older can be elected president Under Art 41. And Art 91 states that the National Assembly will choose the prime minister from among “one of its Muslim members.”

The proposed legislation was opposed by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad. He said that since Pakistan is an Islamic Republic, only a Muslim can be president and prime minister. At the same time, he noted that minorities enjoy complete freedom and security and that their rights are protected.

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Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali; standing next to him was, of the right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami party, who admired the minister, by adding that

“No law against Islamic values and teachings can be passed, introduced or even debated in the parliament”.

As per experts, the refusal of the constitutional proposal is an attempt to keep the country’s religious minorities in secondary positions than Muslims.

In Pakistan, Islam is the majority religion (95-96 per cent), followed by Hinduism. Christians are about 1.6 per cent.

In many specific areas of Pakistan where religious mentality runs the social values, most of members of minorities are restricted to the humblest jobs there, like garbage collection; and are often the victims of discrimination and violence, especially over land. Minority girls and women are often victims of sexual abuse.