The Services and General Administration Department has issued a notification to amend eligibility rules for sanitation jobs.
The notification was issued on November 16, after the Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit, Minister for Minorities Tahir Khalil Sindhu and MPA Mary Gill asked for an end to discriminatory practices in recruitment for the post of sanitation workers in BS-1.
The notification has amended Service Rules 2003 so that minorities are no longer associated with only sanitary work.
“The initiative was taken to provide minority community workers the same employment opportunities as others. Currently, many of them are associated with menial jobs. Such practices cause alienation,” SMU senior member Salman Sufi told The Express Tribune.
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The notification reads, “The required eligibility conditions in Service rules 2003 for the post of sanitary workers reflect that only non-Muslims will be accommodated. This is not only deemed discriminatory but is also a violation of Article 27 of the Constitution of Pakistan.”
Further, the notification reads, “There is a need to amend and remove any such discrimination in service rules and regulations of the departments.”
In September, a Punjab Institute of Cardiology advertisement for the sanitation job vacancies had specified that only non-Muslims were eligible. The advertisement had drawn widespread criticism. Sufi said the amendment had been made after the chief minster took special interest in the matter and directed the relevant authorities to remove the discrimination.
Sufi said the step had been taken in the light of the constitutional requirements and the Pakistan’s commitment to the Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
He said through the prevalence of the practice, minority community workers were not being preferred for high level jobs. He said such practices were impeding their chances of career growth.
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Christians make up most of the non-Muslim population in central Punjab and account for 1.5 per cent of the total population. Their representation in sanitation jobs is above 80 percent. Data collected by World Watch Monitor states that 824 out of 935 sanitation workers in the Peshawar Municipal Corporation are Christian. About 6,000 out of 7,894 sanitation workers in the Lahore Waste Management Company are Christian. And 768 out of 978 workers in the Quetta Municipal Corporation are Christian. Islamabad’s Capital Development Authority (CDA) has 1,500 sanitation workers and all of them are Christian. Christians also have a very high representation in Gilgit and Karachi municipal corporations.
The United Nations describes this as “discrimination based on work and descent” because “any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on inherited status such as caste, including present or ancestral occupation, family, community or social origin, name, birth place, place of residence, dialect and accent … is typically associated with the notion of purity and pollution.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2015.