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Punjab Govt Allows Minorities To Vote For Reserved Seats In Local Bodies’ Elections

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The Punjab provincial cabinet has amended the Punjab Local Government Act to allow religious minorities to vote for reserved and general seats in local bodies’ polls, with the polls being held through political party or electoral panel.

According to a report in Dawn, the meeting, held under Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar gave approval to amendments in the Punjab Village Panchayats and Neighbourhood Councils Act, 2019. Delimitation of local areas under Punjab Demarcation of Local Areas Rules, 2019 and establishment of succeeding local governments under Punjab Local Government Act, 2019.

Moreover, 455 local bodies are also set to be constituted in Punjab. The meeting also approved a revision of the Punjab Municipal Services Programme by way of which local governments would complete the repairing of roads and maintenance.

The amendments would also allow returning officers to announce election results, and in case of a complaint, the matter would be decided by the election tribunal.

The cabinet has also approved the heritage and urban regeneration programme for the promotion of tourism in Lahore Fort. A museum would be built in the Lahore Fort with the help of the French Development Agency, which would provide a soft loan of $25.8 million.

The meeting also approved the establishment of South Punjab Institute of Science and Technology in Dera Ghazi Khan.

The decision to grant voting rights to minorities in local bodies elections on general seats was welcomed by Punjab Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Ijaz Alam.

Alam was of the view that CM Buzdar had won the hearts of minorities by giving them the right of double voting.

While addressing the participants of the meeting, the chief minister said that the PTI government was the custodian of minorities’ rights, adding that historic steps had been taken in Punjab to protect their rights.

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