The Punjab government has reacted promptly to the report generated by National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) on discrimination against minorities in Pakistan and fixed it to the extent that no regulatory authority would allow it in future.
The organisations working for minorities’ rights have mentioned that the government’s indifference toward Christians seemed the community was less than humans.
The NCHR has, in its report, compiled in coordination with the European Union, mentioned that there was blatant discrimination against minorities. The people inducted into the public sector organisations as cleansing staff are usually Christians.
MinuteMirror investigations revealed that the government departments and even the autonomous bodies under the control of the public sector, while floating advertisements in newspapers, mentioned that the religion for the recruitment of sanitary workers should be Christianity. Human rights groups, civil society organisations, as well as the Christian society itself, have taken it as discrimination. International bodies had also expressed concern over it.
The Punjab government had to notify mentioning that the said advertisements were a violation of Article 27 (1) of the constitution of Pakistan besides Articles 1-7 of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
The government of Punjab has rectified it, advising the concerned authorities to avoid such acts in future; otherwise, disciplinary proceedings would be started against them. Instead of mentioning religion like Christianity, the expression of non-Muslims or persons belonging to minorities will be accommodated while advertising for sanitary workers or sweepers.
It also mentioned that Pakistan has certain international pacts on human rights that need to be fulfilled in letter and spirit. As pointed out by the commission, the government authorities should stop this discrimination; otherwise, it would damage the national interest internationally and hurt the feelings of minorities that live in the country.
The Punjab government has further directed all the administrative departments to ensure the deletion of any such provisions in the rules or regulations in the bodies under their control. The municipal corporation, waste management companies, etc. would also ensure that such acts are not in place.
The forefathers of Pakistan had clarified that in the newly established state, the rights of minorities would be fully protected by the majority of Muslims.
The NCHR report has mentioned that about half of the posts reserved for minorities in Pakistan are lying vacant. As per the law of the land, there is a five per cent quota for minorities in government sector jobs. The report further points out that majority of the posts are for low paid jobs like that of sanitary workers and other garbage cleaners. They work, as the report says, under hazardous conditions or meagre compensation and, above all, they are not dealt with at par with the citizenry.
The human rights commission report was a wake-up call for the authorities who usually fail to provide them with safety gear and compensate the families of those who die in the line of duty. The NCHR report mentions that 65 per cent of those who died during the gutter cleaning belonged to minority groups.
To sum up, one could rightly say that Pakistan has become a country where the human rights situation is not at par with the set standards. There was a need to rectify if any of the class living in the country feels it was below the common citizenry. The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) had reiterated respecting minorities, not just in peace times but in war.
It may be added here that the East India Company’s top administration used to hire Dalit Hindus and people from other scheduled caste communities for its army to reinforce their military might in Mughal India. The company gave them respect, honour, equality and social status; this army fought vociferously to strengthen the British Raj in India, which was mired in the caste system for a long time.