A group of Christian residents in Khushab have been observing a hunger strike outside the district coordination officer’s house for three days to protest for a job quota.
According to local residents, a group of over 40 Christian villagers protested outside the Joharabad DCO’s office for a job quota. “There already is a quota for minorities in work places as well as in public schools but we are still being turned away from both places,” said Waleed Masih. “Nearly all the positions reserved for minorities in the job market here as well as in schools have already been filled and not by us,” said Alice Masih, a 21-year-old teacher. Alice told reporters that her younger sister was turned out of the local girl’s school.
“The administration said that all the seats had been filled. When I checked the records I found that all the quota seats had been filled by Muslim candidates,” she said.
Members of the Christian community said that they had a reserved quota of five percent approved by the government but the local administration was not fulfilling this.
“We are completely ignored when it comes to jobs in the population ministry or Education Department and there isn’t a single Christian in the entire district police force,” said Khushab tehsil council member William Naz.
“This is atrocious. We are Pakistanis too and we are being marginalised and cheated out of what the government has actually allotted us” he said.
Naz said that a large group of Christians in the district had decided to observe a hunger strike in this regard. “The DCO and other officials have constantly told us that we will get our jobs in the next recruitment drive because the positions have already been filled.
They have been filled by non-minorities and these people should be sacked,” he said.
“Why should we wait for something the government has already given us? Is it not enough that we are marginalised socially but now they want to drive us into poverty by refusing us jobs allocated for us,” said district member council Dr Shahid Gill. “I have been working at the tehsil hospital for over eleven years and I still have patients who refuse to be treated by a Christian. Now they don’t want other Christians to get jobs even if they are qualified,” he said.
The protesters said that a former government notification had allotted 5 per cent quota for minorities. “I am not saying that they should only hire Christians. There are other minorities that are being neglected. If they had employed an Ahmedi or a Hindi we would not protest but all of our seats have been filled by Muslim candidates and this is not acceptable,” said Ather Simon.
The protesters said that they had appealed to the Punjab chief minister and Supreme Court Chief Justice in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2011.
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