Leaders of minority groups have condemned a decision to form provincial minority ministries.
Julius Salik, convener of the World Minorities Alliance rights group and a former federal minister, called it an attempt to end the national identity of minority communities in Pakistan.
“The presence of Christians at federal level is crucial as they face continual injustice, prejudice and discrimination inscribed in legislation. These are national issues that bear no relation to provincial autonomy,” he said in a June 29 statement.
The federal cabinet earlier this week approved the devolution of seven ministries including Minorities Affairs. The move, aimed at making provinces more autonomous, came into effect yesterday.
All 10 minority ministers in the national assembly will however remain members of the federal cabinet.
Non-Muslim communities have generally criticized the move.
“This is extremely harmful to minorities which are already suffering,” said Arjun Daas, chairman of the Pakistan Meghwar Council in Sindh province.
The Hindu scheduled casts have been enduring the forced abduction and conversion of Hindu girls for decades.
“Dynastic politicians in provinces nominate their own minority members in parliament who in return work for the benefit of their respective sponsors. These dummy representatives have failed to bring relief to their people,” said the Hindu advocate.
“We have been writing to the government for months now calling for a national minorities convention but to no avail.”
Similarly, the Ahmadi community says the government decision does not improve their situation.
“We never participated in the electoral process nor claimed any benefits from the federal government. It excommunicated us and snatched our rights from us by declaring us non-Muslims more than three decades ago,” said Ahmadi spokesman, Saleem ud Din.
According to latest government statistics, Hindus form 5.5 percent while Christians comprise 2 percent of Pakistan’s 177 million people.