Church leadership meets Punjab Government representatives, stand firm on their demand

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A delegation of Church leadership meets representatives of Punjab Government over the issue of the Punjab Local Act.

According to details, Government of Punjab had invited a delegation of Church leadership for negotiations after the Christians leaders announced a nationwide campaign against the Punjab Local Act.

The Church Leadership delegation met the Punjab Government representatives on October 7, Wednesday. The Church leadership delegation included, Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, Bishop Munawar Rumal Shaw, Father Francis Nadeem, Reverend Shahid Miraj, Col Washington Daniel, Father Moris Jalal and Father Joseph Shehzad, and Reverend Emmanuel S. Khokhar. Conversely, Speaker of Punjab Assembly Rana Muhammad Iqbal and Law Minister of Punjab Rana Sanaullah represented the Punjab Government.

The Church leadership delegation, expressed great qualms regarding the Punjab Local Government Ordinance according to which citizens hailing from religious minorities are dispossessed of their right to elect their representatives using their votes by means of participating in the local government system elections. They expressed displeasure over the fact that religious minorities do not have the privilege to cast votes to choose their representatives.

Also read: Church leaders urge Punjab Government to nullify the Punjab Local Act

In addition to Rana Muhammad Iqbal and Rana Sanaullah the delegation of Punjab Government also included some of the minority members of Punjab Assembly, Shahzad Munshi, Mary Gill, Kanji Ram, Shakeel Marcus and Zulfiqar Ghauri. The minority members of the Punjab Assembly presented the Provisional government’s point of view before the Church leadership.

During the meeting, both parties put forth their point of views, and discussions and negotiation were carried out however, the Church leadership held a firm stance and was reluctant to take a softer line. They sternly demanded that the Punjab Government should annul the Punjab Local Act. The Christian leaders made clear once again that if their demand is not met by the provincial government, they will run a countrywide protest against the controversial ordinance.

However, prior to this meeting, a peaceful protest was also staged by the religious minorities on October 7 in front of the Punjab Assembly. This protestation was led by Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw and various leaders from religious, social and political set ups.

Previously on October 5, the Church leadership had held a press conference along with religious leader from other faiths. All the participants of this press conference who were from various religious communities agreed to the fact that Punjab was the only province of Pakistan where religious minorities were being treated as third class citizens and were singled out for their religious faiths.

The participants of this press conference showed accord on the reality that minorities in other three provinces, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Sindh have the privilege and liberty to select their representatives according to their will by electing them.