Islamabad: Pakistan has abolished the Federal Ministry for Religious Minorities.
Akram Gill, Minister of State for Religious Minorities, confirmed this to Catholic Fides in what was the last day of his term.
The Federal Ministry for religious minorities was created in 2008 by the newly elected government led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and the department had been entrusted to the Catholic Shabhaz Bhatti, killed in an attack on March 02, 2011.
The abolition is part of a general plan of decentralisation, already approved by the Parliament of Pakistan, known as "18th amendment" to the governmental structure.
The government has abolished seven federal ministries, transferring their powers to the regions, for the following sectors: religious minorities, food and agriculture, health, environment, labour, women’s development and sports.
The government spoke with satisfaction of this "historic step", and "most important reorganisation, democratically speaking, since 1947, to give greater autonomy to the provinces".
At the conclusion of the government summit chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on June 29, Minister Akram Gill said without hiding a certain disappointment: "We have no alternative. It is the Pakistani Parliament’s choice, which must be respected."
"Prime Minister Gilani, however, ensured that within a week, a new Federal Ministry for interfaith harmony and human rights will be created, which should absorb some of the delegations concerning the religious minorities, safeguarding their welfare. We look forward to this. It is hoped that the new Ministry may work and defend the rights of minorities, like the previous ministry," he added.