Senate of Pakistan without minorities representation again. PCP. Report
26 Feb 2003
KARACHI: February 25. Minority leaders made a last-ditch appeal Monday to the government to include non-Muslims in the Senate as federal and provincial lawmakers cast their votes in assemblies around the country. "Don't make the august House an all-Muslim Senate," pleaded Saleem Khurshid Khokhar, the president of the All-Pakistan Minority Alliance in Sindh. "Now that there is representation of minorities in the union, city and town councils, as well as the lower house of parliament and provincial assemblies, we see no reason why a minority member should be excluded from the Senate," he said. "It is completely unfair."
Earlier in the afternoon, APMA held a protest outside the Karachi Press Club against the exclusion of non-Muslims from the upper house of parliament. The protest was led by Saleem Khurshid Khokhar and Michael Javed, both former provincial lawmakers. Some 100 protesters gathered outside the club to demand minority representation in the Senate.
Over the past six months, the alliance has made numerous appeals to the president and the National Reconstruction Bureau to allow Christians, Hindus and Parsis and others into the upper house. Last month the grouping's members went on a token hunger strike.
Speaking to Pakistan Christian Post, Mr. Khokhar said that Pakistan's statute book had favoured the inclusion of women, minorities and other marginalized groups in decision-making bodies, on the premise that they were underprivileged and lacked proper representation. Recently, he said, even Muslim clerics had been declared technocrats and allowed representation in the house. "So, if they could include the mullahs, why not the minorities?" he asked. The APMA leader claimed that the leader of the main opposition Pakistan People's Party had backed the idea of minority representation in the Senate during a recent meeting with APMA chief Shahbaz Bhatti.