Infringing the Constitution of Pakistan, the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has invited applications for sanitation work from Non-Muslims only
In new measures introduced by the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, requirements for sanitation work in Pakistan specifies that applicants must be non-Muslim. Moreover, applicants must take the religious oath on their religious holy book – Geeta or Bible – that they will never do anything else but work as a sanitation worker and will never refuse to carry out the work.
The controversial news comes after three Christian men died while cleaning a sewer in Pakistan by hand after being refused personal protective equipment or uniform.
Nasir Saeed, director of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS-UK), which is a Christian charity dedicated to helping persecuted Christians in the country, has expressed his concern over the growing situation against religious minorities in the country. He said,
“Minorities are facing discrimination in all walks of life and even their worship places, properties and honour is not safe. They see no future for themselves and for their future generations and are now forced to flee the country.”
It is also illegal and a violation of Pakistan’s own constitution’s article 27 which provides safeguards against discrimination in services (employment).
It states: (1) 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.
However, this is not the first time that Article 27, which provides safeguards against discrimination in services or employment, has been contravened.
The government has adopted a systemic policy of reserving sanitation posts for non-Muslims in the past. On 18 September 2015, the Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab province’s District Head Quarter Hospital, publicised 10 vacancies, where sanitation jobs were reserved for minorities. In 2015, the Punjab Cardiology Hospital issued an advertisement in several newspapers, which stated that “Only Non-Muslims persons who belong to minorities will be accommodated” for sanitation work. Though the advertisement was later retracted.
While the ratio of Christians and Muslims working in the sewers is 60 percent to 40 percent, most Christian sanitation workers said their Muslim co-workers did not indulge in any sanitation work after recruitment, and discriminated against them.
Since 2013, when the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province offered a public apology for stating that “Muslims cannot be hired as sweepers or cleaners,” because sanitation work “can only be carried out by Christians, Hindus and lower castes”, the state has adopted an unapologetic attitude for such discrimination. In March 2017, an advertisement for sweepers in Bannu district, northwestern Pakistan, called for applicants from Hindu, Christians and Shia religious minorities. Although officials now claim that ‘Shia’ was added by mistake, they maintain that religious minorities are preferred for these jobs.