Since the inception of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) around seven decades ago, not a single person from the minority community has been appointed its chairperson.
The ETPB is a trust which manages properties worth billions of rupees, including shrines and worship places, that belong to Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan and which they had left behind after migrating to India following the Partition in 1947.
The Supreme Court has also directed the government to appoint an ETPB chairman from the minorities, informed Member National Assembly Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani. He added that then-Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had directed the attorney general to name Vankwani as the head of ETPB. However, despite the clear directions, this was not undertaken and the federal cabinet appointed Dr Aamer Ahmed as chairman ETPB.
Sharing the history of ETPB, Vankwani explained that in 1950, a meeting was held between Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan’s premier Liaquat Ali Khan. “They discussed the issues of minorities on both sides of the border and decided to establish ETPB in Pakistan while the Waqf Council was made in India,” he stated.
Since then, he added, the members and head of the Waqf Council have been appointed from the Muslim community but the gesture has not been replicated in Pakistan.
Vankwani claimed that there are a total of 1,830 temples and gurdwaras in Pakistan that the ETPB is responsible for and reasserted that their safeguarding and management should fall under a member of minorities.