Four years have passed since the federal government approved a 5% job quota for non-Muslims in federal government services, however, the quota remains largely ignored and thousands of non-Muslims remain deprived of employment in government offices.
In May 2009, the federal cabinet approved a fixed job quota for non-Muslims following a proposal by the late federal minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti. However, data available with The Express Tribune reveals that despite the passing of several years, government departments and ministries have a negligible number of non-Muslim staffers.
According to the data, 2.9 million non-Muslims are registered with NADRA but unofficial figures exceed 3.5 million.
As per documents available with The Express Tribune, Hindus constitute the biggest non-Muslim group in Pakistan with an estimated population of 1,414,527, followed by approximately 1,270,051 Christians, 125,681 Ahmadis, 33,743 Bahais, 6,146 Sikhs, 4,020 Parsis, while 66,898 people reportedly belong to other faiths.
The data shows that despite the 5% quota in place, only eight non-Muslims are employed at the State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan which works under the Ministry of Commerce. Four are employed in Karachi and four in Punjab. The corporation’s offices in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Balochistan have no non-Muslim employees.
Out of these eight, only Partab Rai Lakhani, a resident of Sindh, is employed as an assistant manager in the corporation’s Karachi office, while the remaining seven occupy low-cadre posts.
Similarly, only four non-Muslims are employed by the National Insurance Company Limited. Out of these, only Adeel Patrick is posted as a deputy manager while the remaining three work as sanitary staff.
No non-Muslim has been appointed in Pakistan Reinsurance Company Limited since 2011.
The Ministry for Textile Industry does not fare any better: All of the 16 non-Muslim staffers employed in various departments under the ministry’s control work below basic pay scale-6 and are sanitary workers. The employees are from Punjab and Sindh, while no non-Muslims from K-P and Balochistan exist in the textile ministry’s workforce.
The report makes note of a bill approved by K-P Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak on January 1 to increase the province’s government job quota for non-Muslims from 1.5% to 3%. According to the report, the CM said the new positions will be filled by sanitary workers, a statement which drew condemnation from several minority groups in the province.
In a separate report sent to the media, Dr Nazir Bhatti, president of Pakistan Christian Congress, claimed that before partition a majority of the province’s non-Muslim population was associated with the health and education sector. However, post-1947, non-Muslims were relegated to being “inferior citizens” and forced to work in the sanitation sector, Bhatti added.
Furthermore, the available data also highlights the discrimination being practised in government departments. It reveals that despite possessing a Bachelor’s degree, several non-Muslims do not get selected for clerical positions and are instead appointed as sanitary staff.
Sagar Masih, who works as a sweeper in a government department in Peshawar, told The Express Tribune he had completed his Bachelor’s degree and despite his qualifications he was appointed as a sweeper.
He claimed Muslims appointed as clerks in his office are less educated than him. “I write applications for them, most don’t even know how to write their names. But here I am cleaning up after them.”
Despite government’s claims of leaving no stone unturned to protect the lives and property of religious minorities, the situation on ground seems at odds with these promises.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2014.