By Asia Samachar | PAKISTAN |
Ramesh Singh Arora made history when he returned to the Punjab state assembly on Thursday (23 Jan).
The 46-year old Pakistan politician became the first Sikh to be reelected as a Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) of Punjab when he took oath as an MPA on reserved seat.
In 2013, he made history as the first Sikh to join the lawmaking body after the 1947 partition of India which led to the formation of Pakistan.
During his first term, in October 2017, he moved a bill to ‘provide for solemnization and registration of Sikh marriages.’
The Punjab Sikh Anand Karaj Marriage Act 2018 was passed without any objections, a first for Sikhs anywhere in the world. Even India does not have an Anand Karaj-type legislation specific for the people of the Sikh faith.
“In this second term, one of my initial priorities is to see the Sikh marriage law up and running. It was passed in 2018. Next is coming up with the rules of business. I will raise this in the next season to get the latest updates and see if there are any issues,” he told Asia Samachar in a telephone conversation.
The law is under the ambit of the Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department (HR&MA) of the Punjab state government. The department looks into human rights, minorities affairs, implementation of four international human rights treaties and interfaith harmony.
“Now that I’m back in the assembly, I will be a member of the standing committee on the matter. I’m confident it will be implemented in the next two to three months,” he said.
Ramesh, nominated by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) or PMLN, is one of the two Sikhs in the Punjab assembly. His party is in the opposition in the state.
In the 2018 Pakistani general election, Mahinder Pal Singh was elected to the Punjab assembly on a reserved seat for minorities representing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Hailing from Nankana Sahib, Mahinder lives in Multan.
In January 2019, he was appointed as the parliamentary secretary – another first for a Sikh in Pakistan – for Minorities and Human Rights.
The Punjab state is run by a coalition between PTI and Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid e Azam Group), and supported by four independent members.
PTI has 181 seats, just a few seats short of holding its majority in the 371 seats assembly. PMLN has 166 seats.
The assembly’s 371 seats are made up of 297 general seats, 66 seats reserved for women and eight reserved for non-Muslims.
Sikh lawmaker stays loyal to Pakistan (Asia Samachar, 28 Feb 2019)
Sikh Marriage Act set to become law in Punjab, Pakistan (Asia Samachar, 26 Oct 2017)