Islamabad: The government of Pakistan’s Punjab province has announced plans to provide state-of-the-art facilities for members of the minority Christian community, to bring them at par with Muslims in the province.
Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar revealed the plans during a meeting with a delegation of the National Commission for Minorities Rights.
Former Sindh inspector-general of police Dr Shoaib Suddle was leading the delegation.
The CM said Punjab was being turned into an exemplary province for the protection of minorities’ rights.
During the meeting, a decision was taken in principle to compile the data of non-Muslim employees from across the province in the meeting.
The chief minister said the package prepared for Punjab’s minorities would prove to be an exemplary programme with regard to their welfare.
A large number of Christian workers are working at the Lahore Civil Secretariat and various departments including education, metropolitan and other administrative offices and departments of the province.
The chief minister said the Christian community’s largest residential colony in Lahore, Youhana Abad would be made a model area at a cost of Rs300 million (Dh7 million).
The chief minister ordered the appointment of a provincial focal person for solving matters relating to the minorities on time and added that employees belonging to the minority communities would be given official holidays on their religious days.
He said non-Muslim students were being given educational scholarships worth Rs25 million while another amount of Rs25 million would be distributed among non-Muslim research scholars and postgraduate students as grants.
He added that non-Muslim students were receiving technical training, under scholarships, in collaboration with six different chambers of commerce, adding that non-Muslim prisoners would also be given remission in sentences for reading their respective religious books.
The chief minister said a proposal would be reviewed to exempt non-Muslim students from appearing for the competitive examination during their religious holidays.
He said lands reserved for minorities in the province were being repossessed from squatters.
He asked the police officers to personally check the security of churches and other worship places of minorities.
Buzdar said that granting of dual voting rights to minorities in the local government elections was a praiseworthy step by the Punjab province.
Suddle apprised the chief minister about objectives of the commission. Ramesh Kumar MNA, Saqib Jillani Advocate, provincial minister Ijaz Alam, ACS (Home), administrative secretaries and others attended the meeting.