The city’s waste management company began a recruitment campaign for local candidates who are healthy and non-Muslims. For the Justice and Peace Commission, this is discrimination. Christians hold the most menial jobs in the country’s big cities. Public sector jobs reserved for non-Muslims are only 5 per cent of the total.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church of Pakistan has firmly slammed the latest form of discrimination against the country’s religious minorities, namely a campaign to fill vacancies by the Faisalabad Waste Management Company (FWMC).
The company has set strict conditions for those who "will improve the cleanliness of the city", namely candidates "must be from Faisalabad, healthy and non-Muslims."
Yesterday, the Commission for Justices and Peace (NCJP) of the Pakistani Bishops' Conference spoke out, stating that "the advertisement is based on discrimination and brassiness against religious minorities and non-Muslims. It is an attempt to divide society into segments and promote the view that minorities and non-Muslims are second-class citizens."
"This kind of attitude,” the statement goes on to say, “is a gross violation of Article 27 of the Constitution, which says: ‘No citizen otherwise qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against in respect of any such appointment on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth’.”
For some time, Christians have complained that the Punjab provincial government hires only Christians as sanitation workers. Last year, the head of Multan district health bureau announced that he would hire only non-Muslims to perform such work in local hospitals and rural health facilities.
In 2013, the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province Parvez Khattak, had to clarify his position after stating that "Muslims cannot be hired as sweepers or cleaners” because sanitation work “can only be carried out by Christians, Hindus and lower castes."
Some studies note that about 80 per cent of garbage collectors in Pakistan’s big cities are Christians, branded "choora", a derogatory term used for Christians to define them as “untouchables”.
For Professor Anjum James Paul, a Catholic and president of the All Pakistan Minorities' Teachers Alliance, the lack of economic resources among Christians is the main reason why many of them are employed in this field.
"Many of these workers are school dropouts,” he explained. “Christian families find it hard to finance higher education expenses for their children. Also there is a biased attitude and discrimination prevalent in general public”.
All this is a sign of “prejudice, as only a 5 per cent quota is reserved for non-Muslims” in public sector jobs.