Scandalous Scam of Pakistan's "Affirmative Action Program"


London: September 28, 2015. (PCP) Pakistani Christians have been outraged by a job advert from a government run hospital that has proved something they have been saying for years: that the so-called 5% quota for minorities in government jobs is a sham, and a tool to deliberately discriminate against them. Christians in Pakistan have emailed the offending advert direct to the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA). The advert, which advertised a number of different jobs at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology in Lahore, stipulated that the two menial cleaning job positions were reserved for "non-Muslims" only, which in the Punjab province basically means Christians. Other jobs such as security guard, ward boy and lift operator are open for the general public to apply for, but the two positions for male and female sanitary worker explicitly state: "Only non-Muslim persons who belong to minorities will be accommodated". There has recently been similar offensive and discriminatory job adverts for menial positions at the Lady Wellington Hospital and the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, also in Lahore. Human rights activists note that if someone challenges the government in the courts because they are discriminated against in better paying and higher status jobs, the government will counter that they have already fulfilled their legal obligation, and that the 5% quota is full – all of them in these janitorial jobs. The 5% quota system is a fairly long standing system touted by Pakistan’s government as proof that it is doing something to ameliorate discrimination against non-Muslims by saying that 5% of all government jobs should be reserved for non-Muslim minorities. In practice, as is well known in Pakistan, it merely perpetuates the apartheid system in which Christians are by and large restricted to only the jobs to which Christians have traditionally been relegated – sanitation workers, street sweepers, cleaners, and sewerage workers. In this particular case, all jobs seem to have been advertised "on a contract basis" for one year for 18-25 year olds only, but the only further restriction was for these sanitation jobs. What is particularly galling is that so far the Punjabi government has not reacted, even though the Punjab Minister for Health is a Christian, albeit - as is required under the current rules - a member of a mainstream Muslim party. Sources in Pakistan say that Muslim politicians in both the National and Provincial Parliamentary bodies deliberately exclude minorities from their social events, and continually refer to them with the terms ‘bhanghi’ and ‘choora’, which literally mean ‘sweeper’ but in essence are insults referring to low caste/status or dark skin. Christian campaigners are demanding that the 5% quota be applied to all pay grades in all government jobs. BPCA chairman, Wilson Chowdhry, said: "It is well known, at least in Pakistan, that the government's 5% quota is a sham, a public relations exercise which they can point Western governments and media to and claim that they have some kind of affirmative action programme to boost under-represented minorities, similar to many Western countries. This cons gullible Westerner governments whilst the reality, as shown by this advert is that it is actually an instrument of institutionalised apartheid designed to maintain depression of non-Muslims in poverty and low-paying jobs. There have been a number of intelligent but naive Christians who, against the odds, have managed to go to university, graduate and have applied for secure government positions only to be relegated to menial jobs while illiterate Muslims are put in authority over them. This is a completely unacceptable state of affairs and gives the lie to government claims about commitment to minority rights – they are committed to maintain the degrading status quo in deference to Islamic extremism, and the fact that most in government seem to share the prejudice against Christians that is rampant in the general Pakistani population. If in the West, prejudice against Muslims can be called racist, as it often is, what can we say about the entrenched and institutionalised discrimination against Christians? the word apartheid is extremely appropriate here, and we call on Western governments to face up to this fact and consider applying to Pakistan the same measures they did against apartheid South Africa".

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