London: On May 25, the Punjab government banned all departments from advertising a Christian only condition when recruiting sanitation workers.
Minorities constitute about 3% of the population in Punjab and Christians from the main bulk. However, Christians make up about 80% of the sanitation workforce in many districts. All 9,000 workers at the Lahore Waste Management Company are Christian.
The Services and General Administration Department (S&GAD) issued a notice after the Punjab chapter of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) raised concerns over this discriminatory practice.
Many government job advertisements set out that applicants for sanitation workers must be non-Muslim.
Sometimes the posts go even further, and state that only Christians apply for what is considered to be demeaning work.
But now the S&GAD has directed all agencies and departments not to specify that the candidate for sanitation work must be a Christian.
It said that associating Christians with sanitation labour is against Article 27 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan.
In a recent report launched by the NCHR, it noted that such a condition of religion brings a bad name to the country.
Pakistan is also a signature of Article 1-7 of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and therefore the S&GAD suggested the practise is against international law.
The European Union is reviewing Pakistan’s GSP Plus status and this is now one of the primary focuses of the reviewing committee.
Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK, welcomed the ban on the condition and the targeting of religious minorities and in some cases one particular community, which further diminishes their status in the society.
He said: “Pakistan has ratified dozens of international treaties like International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and being a state party to UN human rights conventions is a key step to ensuring human rights of all citizens are respected, and the practice was a clear violation of human rights laws.
“It was a long-standing demand from Christians and other religious minorities. CLAAS is among the organisations who have been protesting against this discriminatory treatment with Christians and demanding this condition to be removed.”
Saeed further said: “I am glad this condition has been removed and this will help to reduce the growing hatred against Christians in Pakistan.
“Although Christians seem to be the main beneficiary of this change, it will help Pakistan to restore its image in regard to the treatment of its minorities.”