NA moved to increase minority quota in assemblies

NA moved to increase minority quota in assemblies

naISLAMABAD: Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a minority Member of National Assembly on Tuesday demanded allocation of 47 seats of assemblies through direct voting for minority representatives and grant of dual vote right to them as was in practice for the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

A session of the National Assembly commenced under the leadership of Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

Speaking in the National Assembly after introducing a constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2013, amendment in Article 51 and 106, the minority MNA said the present legislators did not represent the minority community.

Dr Vankwani said division-wise constituencies for minorities would help in electing true representatives of minority community.

He further said that political parties supported the demand, as all believe that minorities should be granted right to vote and their seats should be enhanced. The government did not oppose the Bill.

The speaker referred the bill to the relevant standing committee for further perusal and discussion.

The Speaker also referred the bill of Ms Kishwer Zehra’s Bill to further amend the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (The constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2013. (Amendment to Article 51 and 59). Ms Kishwer said disabled should be given representation in Parliament.

Moreover, lawmakers belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) staged a walkout from the National Assembly against the delimitation of Karachi’s constituencies.

During the session, MQM MNA Abdul Rashid Godil remarked that changes were repeatedly being made in Karachi’s constituencies.

He said MQM had even approached the courts against the delimitation of Karachi’s constituencies despite of which new delimitations were being carried out by promulgating ordinances.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) protested on the issue of Kalabagh Dam.

Nawab Yusuf Talpur said that the government did not intend to construct the Kalabagh Dam.

Meanwhile Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmad assured the National Assembly that allocations for construction of Lowari Tunnel project will be enhanced in order to complete the project at the earliest.

Responding to a call attention notice moved by Iftikharuddin and others in the National Assembly he said this is a very important project which will be used for trade with the Central Asian states via Afghanistan. He said the Prime Minister has recently got a briefing from the National Highway Authority on the Lowari Tunnel and hoped that work on the project will be expedited on war footing.

The Minister of State said that the design of the Lowari Tunnel project was changed in 2009-10 in order to facilitate the passage of heavy traffic from the 8.5 kilometer long tunnel. He said work on 2.25 kilometer has so far been completed and it is currently not in a position to facilitate heavy traffic. He maintained the tunnel cannot be opened permanently as it lacks basic facilities such as electricity which could lead to accidents. It has, therefore, been decided in principle that the Lowari tunnel will only be opened for two days in fortnight.

When asked about Lyari Expressway project, the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs said that the government has directed the National Highway Authority to timely complete all the ongoing projects including Lyari Expressway Project. He said fifty percent work on this 32 kilometer long expressway has been completed. The project faced delay due to non-acquisition of land but now the government is giving priority to complete the project as soon as possible.

Speaking in the House, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch clarified that his government will not undertake any project which impinges on the national solidarity.

Responding to the remarks of some PML-N members in favour of Kalabagh Dam, the Minister said that statements of some members should not be construed as the party policy. He admitted that differences exist on Kalabagh Dam and his leadership is one hundred percent clear that this project will not be touched as long as complete consensus is not developed on it.

Earlier, the Opposition Leader Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah said small provinces and Pakistan Peoples Party are not against the construction of dams as the previous government of PPP initiated work on Diamer Bhasha Dam besides announcing Bunji Dam project. He, however, said that Kalabagh Dam is a controversial subject and such issues should not be raised which could harm the federation. The House will now meet today (Wednesday) at 10:30 am.

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