Minorities’ share of jobs equals sanitary work only?

Published: July 9, 2012
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Despite being college graduates,
their applications for desk jobs
stand ignored. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

Despite being college graduates, their applications for desk jobs stand ignored. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

KARACHI: 

Asif Ghani Masih starts his day by sweeping the dusty corridors of the Sindh Secretariat. As the day progresses, he scrubs dirty toilets and empties dustbins, tasks that are part of his day job as a sanitation worker.

In the evening, however, the 27-year-old becomes a neatly dressed student, who attends classes for a Bachelor’s degree; the tasks of the day shelved away as he scribbles notes. At school, he had often dreamt of being an engineer.

Three years ago, Masih was thrilled when he heard about the five per cent minority quota in all Sindh government departments. The prospect of having a secure job and pension made the intermediate graduate leave his job at a small, cash-strapped courier company and apply for a clerical post at the secretariat.

“I was hoping that my education would be enough to land me a decent desk job,” says Masih, as he sits in his modest house in Old Golimar. “But when the list came out I was shocked to see myself appointed as a sanitary worker in the finance department.” His eyes fill with tears as he remembers the day. “It hurts to be called a bhangi [sanitation worker],” he adds.

The ‘lucky’ few

For the religious minorities’ members lucky enough to land government jobs on the oft-bragged five per cent job quota, the only positions available at dozens of departments for them are of sanitation workers.

Take, for example, all 21 janitors who work with Masih. All of them are Christians or Hindus. Of the 16 who work at the Sindh minorities’ affairs department, most are Christians or Hindus too.

Even educated young men can’t get anything out of the quota but jobs as sanitary workers. He was a role model for his family, but does not like to talk about his job with them.

“Of the few educated youngsters in my family, I was lucky to land a job in the Express Courier Link and worked there for almost eight years,” said Masih. He started off in the customer services section and became an operations manager, but then switched gears in favour of a permanent government job.

Months ago, Masih had applied for the position of a dispatch rider at another department, but had no luck. He has reached out to politicians also but received no replies.

Sad plight

At the Sindh law department, a Hindu employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing his dismissal from service, said he had completed a college degree but is suffering due to his different beliefs.

“This is what the poor and minorities get for educating themselves,” he said. “We are suffering because of our faith.” He does not plan to spend money on educating his child, as he believes that won’t help him get a decent job in the end. The sanitary worker had got the job on minority quota after he asked for help from his community’s political representatives.

“It is sad that uneducated Muslims are appointed as clerks and cannot even write their names, but we are cleaning trash.”

Cold shoulder for Sikhs

The plight of young men from the Sikh community is no different too; they have been entirely left in the cold. Vijesh Singh, 28, applied to the Sindh wildlife department but never heard back. “Many of our people are turning towards shipping, since there we don’t have any Sikhs in the government and there is no one to pursue our case,” he says

MPA Saleem Khokhar acknowledges the issue. Minority members are only given such jobs, he said. “Muslims who are appointed sanitation workers, do not work and only draw their salaries,” he claimed.

Michael Javed, a Christian community representative, alleges that this is not happening in Karachi only, but across the province also. He cited an example in Jamshoro, where a Bachelor’s graduate Danish was appointed as a sweeper. “All nine graduates who applied for desk jobs were given posts of sanitation workers,” Javed said. “Three of them refused to take the job.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Falcon
    Jul 9, 2012 - 3:17AM

    It is a shame for us that we call ourselves Muslims but we are so unjust to our human brethren from other religions. ET, thanks for publishing this analysis. It would be great if somebody at ET could do a detailed research on the issue and publish metrics on employment and education patterns of minorities across all the provinces spanning over at least one to two decades. The more this issue is exposed, the more progressive people of the society will be able to fight for the rights of minorities.

    Recommend

  • Umer
    Jul 9, 2012 - 3:20AM

    He should feel lucky to be alive in the Islamic Republic, what more does he want?

    Recommend

  • Jul 9, 2012 - 8:43AM

    “It is sad that uneducated Muslims are appointed as clerks and cannot even write their names, but we are cleaning trash.”

    Recommend

  • themiddleone
    Jul 9, 2012 - 8:45AM

    its really sad to hear that this particular person has to work like this in a Government job but we are just missing a very important point here. The minorities are always highlighted more but in truth many poor Pakistani’s work like this! Be it Muslims or non-Muslims. There are so many kids who have left their primary education either because of the fact that our public education sector has been totally destroyed, I don’t even want to talk about the private education sector, or poverty is so much that they have to support their families instead of pursuing studies. There are people out there with bachelor’s degree who are unemployed let alone a person without a bachelor’s degree! Competition is tough in today’s world, a master’s degree is now deemed as minimum plus there are limited seats in both public & private sector. so have a sense of situation in Pakistan, everyone is suffering, we just highlight the few and forget that everyone is a Human foremost. Jobs should be given on merit not on the basis of connections or quota’s, if somebody has a good CV he/she should be given a job accordingly, be it anyone.

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  • Mohamed
    Jul 9, 2012 - 9:46AM

    The treatment if the minorities in Pakistan is deeply shocking and distressing. Many In Pakistan refer to the Sachar Committe report to point to discrimination against Muslims in India. That such a report was commissioned is itself witness to the fact that there is concern for minorities in India. Though the figures are disappointing it should not be forgotten Muslims are among the high achievers of the country. They can be found in the higher echelons of the judiciary, military, sports, government, science, business and entertainment. I remember reading somewhere that that the net worth of Azim Premjis Wipro alone would exceed that of the entire Karachi stock exchange listed companies.

    It would be difficult to find as many internationally famous Muslims in Pakistan as you can in India. Partition seems to have done more for the minorities of India than for the Muslims of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Jul 9, 2012 - 10:33AM

    if a state bedrock is the two nation theory what can we expect only religious discrimination is necessary hereRecommend

  • Akshay
    Jul 9, 2012 - 10:37AM

    @themiddleone : You are very silly. These men are not just minorities, they are graduates and getting lowly work just because of their faith.

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  • rahman ali
    Jul 9, 2012 - 10:38AM

    if a state bedrock is the two nation theory what can we expect only religious discriminationis necessary here.Recommend

  • Arijit Sharma
    Jul 9, 2012 - 10:51AM

    It is sad that uneducated Muslims are appointed as clerks and cannot even write their names, but we are cleaning trash.”

    Once the Caliphate is established, you will be treated as equal citizens. Until then, you will have to bear basic inconveniences.

    Recommend

  • Logic
    Jul 9, 2012 - 11:04AM

    Nothing wrong, we all know what Pakistanis do in USA. To have a good job, you must have good qualification. It is simple.

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  • unbeliever
    Jul 9, 2012 - 12:52PM

    @Logic:

    your logic is kind of twisted…..the pakistanis who do menial jobs should are doing in a nation not their own…
    but pakistan is a country and nation of these minorities, and cannot afford to treat them like american can, as they are not their countrymen.

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  • Umer
    Jul 9, 2012 - 3:19PM

    @Logic:

    Nothing wrong, we all know what Pakistanis do in USA.

    But they are not in USA they are in their own country, unless you think they are unwelcome aliens here. Think before you write.

    Recommend

  • Feroz
    Jul 9, 2012 - 3:41PM

    Minorities currently at 3% will be reduced to zero within 5 years, all became Muslim due to love of Islam ?

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  • Jul 12, 2012 - 5:15PM

    In india some people do nonsense. Yet all minories can prosper, And many do reach the higest level of govt jobs.

    I just happen to stumble upon this news site .Did not like it .

    Recommend

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