KARACHI - Sindh Minister for Minorities Affairs Giyanoo Mal alias Gianchand Esrani distributed scholarship cheques among 2,811 non-Muslim students of the province at a cheques distribution ceremony held at Sindh Scouts Association’s auditorium here on Monday afternoon.

He said the department received over 8,000 applications for the provision of scholarships to non-Muslim students, studying in colleges and universities this year. A five-member committee has been constituted to re-scrutinise the remaining applications, he said, adding that he hoped that more eligible students would also receive scholarships.

“If someone’s documents with the applications are missing, he or she can submit those documents within a week and after scrutiny, they would also receive scholarships,” he remarked.

For the next year, he pointed out that more students of minority communities; studying up to matric will also receive scholarships.  The amount of the scholarship is also being doubled from the next year, he announced.

Besides providing scholarships, the provincial department of Minorities Affairs is also developing, renovating and repairing the worship places like temples, churches, gurudwaras, graveyards and Shamshan Ghat. The Non-Muslim Welfare Committee is nominating the names for the scholarships, he added.

The minister said Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is taking a personal interest in solving the problems of minority communities. He pointed out that PPP is the only party in Pakistan, which has always nominated its members from the religious minorities on general seats of Sindh and National Assemblies. In the present Parliament, one National assembly and two Sindh Assembly members have been elected on general seats. “I am the lucky one who was elected as MPA on a general seat and 90 percent of my voters were Muslims,” he added.

On the occasion, the Secretary of the Minorities Affairs Department Mr Mohammad Abbas Baloch said that the Sindh government has created the department for the welfare of minorities. An amount of Rs850 million is being distributed as grants in aid in the form of scholarships, medical aid and financial aid to people in need. Besides this over 900 religious places are being looked after, maintained and repaired, he added. He said the department is working on the development and implementation of integrated safety net programmes for minority communities that address social risks, which are the result of unemployment, retirement, illness/disability, old age and death.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Anthony Naveed, MPA said that PPP is the only party which is working for the welfare of the minorities in the country. The party does not distinguish its members based on religion, he added.

On the occasion, a female and a male student spoke and appreciated the provincial government’s efforts for providing financial assistance to the students. The ceremony was also attended by officers of the Minorities Affairs department, members of the Sindh Non-Muslim Welfare Committee and parents of the students.