Pakistan Muslim League had promised in its 2013 election manifesto to enforce the job quota for minorities in educational institutions and pubic sector jobs including diplomatic missions.
In March 2009, the government of Pakistan reserved 5 per cent job quota for minorities across the country. The quota was reserved under Article 260(3)(b) of the Constitution of Pakistan. The religious minorities had been demanding at least 6 per cent reserved quota in jobs protesting of discrimination and religious intolerance that keeps them from getting a job on merit.
The government has been accused of not enforcing 5 per cent quota at the workplace. In its 32-pages landmark ruling on religious minority issues, on June 19, 2014, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had ordered all the governments in Pakistan to implement the law in letter and spirit however it was not to be. According to Ramesh Kumar, MNA from Pakistan Muslim League-N no government had been serious about providing a decent workplace with adequate job opportunities to the members of minorities in the country.
The verdict from the Former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice retired Tasaduq Hussain Jillani, stated: “In view of the statement made by learned Attorney General for Pakistan and learned Additional Advocate Generals of Punjab, KPK and Balochistan regarding reservation of quota for minorities in the federal and provincial services, it is directed that the Federal Government and all Provincial Governments shall ensure the enforcement of the relevant policy directives regarding reservation of quota for minorities in all services.”
Chaudhry Mushtaq Gill, a member of the Minorities’ Advisory Council for the government of Punjab, said that there is deep frustration among the minorities due to lack of proper implementation of job quota. Member of minorities he said are of the opinion that laws about minorities are not respected because of prejudice and religious discrimination.
According to 1999 census minorities were 3 per cent of the total population of Pakistan. Ishtiaq Ahmed an eminent Swedish Pakistani Scholar writes in his book the ‘Pakistani Descent,’ that the minorities in Pakistan comprise 10 per cent of the total population. For many years since the inception of Pakistan, minorities both from Muslims and non-Muslims had lived a safe and secure life until the wave of Islamisation swept the country during the Zia regime. Today religious minorities, especially non-Muslims in Pakistan have been excluded from mainstream national life by denying them space in the public sphere through job opportunities, educational facilities, and freedom to practice religion and culture.
According to Jinnah Institute’s Report on minorities during the period 2012-15 at least 351 incidents of violence were reported against minorities. (http://jinnah-institute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Minority-Report-2016.pdf).
Minorities have voicing their protest to the government and suggesting to reform public school curriculum that has largely been considered the reason behind gross discrimination of minorities. Of late janitorial jobs in public sectors were especially marked out for Christians. The government had to discontinue the practice after the protest from right activists.
Pakistan Muslim League MNA who does not want to be named has told Truth Tracker that the PML-N government has done almost nothing to implement the Judgment of the Supreme Court. He said that even where jobs can be given to minorities were not made available.
Punjab Human Rights Minister Khalil Tahir Sindhu while talking to Truth Tracker agreed that there are gaps in the enforcement of job quota at the Federal level. However, when talking about Punjab, he said things had improved considerably. “Not everywhere in Punjab jobs can be allotted to minorities because there is one seat for minorities against 20 regular jobs. In Punjab, we have introduced 5 per cent quota in every job category. In the last three years, we have inducted 67 sub-inspectors in the police. Recently the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Syed Mansoor Ali Shah has announced 5 per cent quota for 636 Additional Session Judges to be hired shortly. Similarly, we have appointed a Sikh SDO in Nankana Sahib Punjab. Even Public Service Commission has reserved 5 per cent job quota for minorities,” said Sindh.
He added that one 14 November 2014 the Chief Minister of Punjab announced that the job quota would be applied from grade 1 to 17. “We have taken notice that every job advertisement carries the provision of job quota for minorities, said Sindhu.
Mahmood-ur-Rashid, Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly from PTI, told Truth Tracker that the government has been able to implement only 3 per cent of the job quota instead of 5 per cent. He said that the parliamentarians representing minorities had been registering their concern with the government about the inadequate implementation of employment quota but to no avail. “There is a broad sense of disappointment among the minorities over this issue,” said Rashid.
Fareed Paracha, leader Jamaat-e-Islami, thinks that the government has failed to meet the expectations of the minorities. He stated that 5 per cent quota is too small and should be increased. “A large population of the minorities are either poor or illiterate, in this situation it becomes more necessary for the government to increase the job quota so that a maximum number of people from the minorities are adjusted,” said Paracha.
Basharat Khokhar, a human rights activist, told Truth Tracker that it was difficult to apply 5 per cent job quota all over the country. “ It is important that this quota is raised,” said Khokhar. He added that mostly flat cadre jobs are offered to minorities, which, Khokhar emphasized, has increased the trend of discrimination against them.
James Paul, Chairman Pakistan Minority Teachers Association, talked to Truth Tracker on the phone and said that because of 5 per cent job quota it becomes difficult to accommodate enough people from minorities. Usually, said Paul, people from minorities are offered positions in far-flung areas.
The government has been unable to enforce the full implementation of 5 per cent job quota for minorities both in the federal and provincial level in Punjab. The government efforts have been half hearted and true empowerment of the religious minorities will happen if the quota’s net is broadened and educational systems are made enforce the same leverage to its minority applicants. Only then the job quota will be able to make minority citizen valuable members of our social fabric. The promise has been compromised.