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Pakistan minorities demand quota at top university

Reserved seats would encourage youngsters from minority communities to pursue higher education

Pakistan minorities demand quota at top university

Anthony Naveed (blue jacket) leads a delegation of minorities in a meeting with Karachi University vice-chancellor Khalid Mahmood Iraqi. (Photo supplied)

A group lobbying for the rights of non-Muslims has called for a special quota for minority students at a top government-run university in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi.

A four-member delegation from the National Lobbying Delegation for Minority Rights visited the main campus of the University of Karachi and met with its vice-chancellor Khalid Mahmood Iraqi at the weekend.

Anthony Naveed, a Catholic lawmaker from Sindh, led the delegation, which also included Hindu activists Ashothama Lohana and Jai Parkash Moorani. They told Iraqi that the Punjab government had a 2 percent admission quota for religious minorities.

“It would be a great if Karachi University also fixed a quota for minority communities,” the group said.

“Minority communities are unable to find top positions in public and private sectors because they lack resources and access to higher education in Pakistan. A quota would gradually uplift minority communities.” 

The reserved seats would encourage youngsters from minority communities in Karachi and Sindh province to pursue higher education, added the group.

“The matter will be taken up at the relevant platform and hopefully Karachi University will be offering a special quota by 2021,” Iraqi told the minority group.

The university would also like to arrange scholarships and financial aid for them, he added.

Naveed said he would request the Sindh government to allocate funds for scholarships from the relevant ministry.

In May, Punjab became the first province to set a quota for students from religious minorities in higher education institutes in a measure long sought by Pakistani activists.

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The provincial cabinet on April 30 approved a 2 percent quota for non-Muslims in universities under its Punjab Minorities Empowerment Package.

Christians are the largest non-Muslim minority in Punjab and make up 2.6 percent of the province’s population of 110 million, according to the 2017 national census.

“Our youth belonging to minorities have been facing issues in getting high-end jobs under the 5 percent quota because of a lack of highly educated candidates. This will help them in getting better education and securing a better future for their families,” Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar tweeted.

“Every segment of our society has served Pakistan well and it is our responsibility to ensure their welfare and, inshallah, we won't fail our minorities.”

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