Pakistan: job quotas for religious minorities

politics | May 30, 2009 | By Aftab Mughal

The government of Pakistan has notified the reservation of five per cent quota for the jobs of religious minorities on March 26 across the board in the federal government services.

The notification was issued by the Establishment Division. The quota would be observed, as defined in Article 260(3)(b) of the Constitution, to all posts across the board in the federal government services, to be filled by direct recruitment, including the Central Superior Services (CSS), in addition to their participation in open merit, it said.

According to the Daily Times, this reservation would have the same parameters as were prescribed for the reservation of quota for women and would count as part of an overall provincial allocation and would be calculated against the quota for the province of origin of the minority candidate concerned, it added.

It said the vacancies reserved for minorities, for which qualified candidates were not available, would be carried forward and filled by minority candidates in the future. These orders would also apply to initial appointments in attached departments, autonomous, semi-autonomous bodies, corporations and public corporations and companies, administratively controlled by the federal government, it added.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on May 28 that he would ask the provinces to fix a five percent quota in government jobs for minorities. “I will ensure the implementation of 5 percent of jobs quota for minorities in the federal government departments in letter and spirit. I will also advise the semi-government departments and provinces to allocate and ensure a five percent quota of jobs for minorities.”

Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti (only Christian in the federal cabinet) told reporters that the notification would be implemented with immediate effect.

According to 1998 census, religious minorities are 3 percent of the total population of the country while minority leaders say their population is more than that. The minorities have been demanding for years for 6 percent reserved quota in the jobs because of discrimination and religious intolerance in the country it is hard for them to get a job through an open merit. Their representation in the higher Civil services and judiciary is very minor. Minority rights organizations demand that the government should publicize the status of implementation of this policy on a year basis.

A joint non-governmental organizations’ report, presented during 74th session to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in February 2009, says, “There was previously a six percent quota reserved in government services for schedule casts and the law provided three years age relaxation in the jobs and admissions since 1948. This law was scrapped in 1998 during the regime of Mian Nawaz Sharif, a civilian Prime Minister.” ##

Aftab Mughal edits Minorities Concern of Pakistan.

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