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Pakistan to increase assembly seats for minorities

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The proposal was approved by the cabinet during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf this afternoon.

Eleven seats will be added in the national and provincial assemblies for members from minority communities, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told reporters.

A bill will soon be tabled in parliament to create the new seats, he said.

"As per the vision and promise of (slain former premier) Benazir Bhutoo and according to the manifesto of the Pakistan People's Party, we have increased the seats for minorities in the national and provincial assemblies, while seats in the Senate have already been increased," he said.

The cabinet gave its approval to a bill that seeks to increase the seats for minorities in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament from 10 to 14.

Once the bill is passed by parliament, seats for minorities in the Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assemblies will be increased by one each while there will be two additional seats for minorities in the Punjab assembly and three in the Sindh assembly.

The assemblies of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have three seats each for minorities while the number of such seats in the Punjab and Sindh assemblies are eight and nine, respectively.

The PPP-led government at the centre has faced considerable criticism for not doing enough to protect the rights of minorities after a string of incidents involving the alleged abduction and forcible conversion of Hindu women and the arrest of a teenage Christian girl in Islamabad after she was falsely accused of blasphemy by a Muslim cleric.

  

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