An advertisement offering sanitation jobs in the Pakistan Army was changed after it was criticised on social media for being discriminatory towards Christians.
It specified that only Christians could apply for the posts of sanitation workers in the army’s Mujahid Force. Vacancies for the posts of drivers, sepoys and tradesmen were also mentioned but had no such religious criteria.
Former director-general of the Punjab chief minister’s Strategic Reforms Unit and activist Salman Sufi tweeted an updated picture of the advertisement.
Great news. Thanks to @OfficialDGISPR for removing the *Christian only* clause in call for application for Sanitary workers paving way to ensure Christian Pakistanis are not labeled as just for sanitary jobs.
Heartening our request was accepted & the clerical mistake was fixed pic.twitter.com/UW8N1AjxTu
— Salman Sufi (@SalmanSufi7) June 27, 2019
“We are grateful that this clerical error was addressed as usually Christians are [stereotyped] as sanitary workers so it is considered a norm and we wanted that changed,” Sufi told SAMAA Digital.
Human rights lawyer advocate Mary James Gill had tweeted on Monday to ISPR chief Major General Asif Ghafoor to take notice of the discriminatory clause.
Dear @OfficialDGISPR,this is not the 1st time such ads have appeared. As a #PakistaniChristian I feel no shame in cleaning my country but this policy muds the image of #Pakistan being discriminatory against a religious minority. Please take notice. #ChristiansAreNotJustSweepers https://t.co/qFDX3AjKiT
— #SweepersAreSuperheroes (@maryjamesgill) June 24, 2019
Many other activists and journalists also raised their voices against the discriminatory policy.
I fail to understand as to why sanitary workers jobs are allocated for #Christians only? Why not for all? What if such jobs are for only Muslims in UK, USA or elsewhere in the West?
You shit, and we clean.
— Kapil Dev (@KDSindhi) June 25, 2019
Dear @OfficialDGISPR in #Punjab few years ago we struck down this policy of delegating sanitary jobs with Christians only because it was discriminatory. I request you to please do the same as it doesn’t suit the image of our Armed forces. Thank you in advance. https://t.co/9oJyM1oE8O
— Salman Sufi (@SalmanSufi7) June 24, 2019
Honorable @OfficialDGISPR, Pak Christians have a great deal of love and respect for our armed forces. Even though a good number of Christians are working as janitors, tagging them with janitorial work badly reflects on us. We have high expectations from you. kindly intervene!!! pic.twitter.com/qkGKFptuQm
— Asif Aqeel (@asifaqeel) June 24, 2019
This is not the first time Christians or non-Muslims have been associated with janitorial work.
A March 17, 2017 advertisement for sweepers in a local Urdu newspaper in Bannu specified that only minorities should apply. The advertisement said that male and female applicants must be Hindu, Christian or Shia.
In August 2018, activist Kapil Dev posted a picture of an advertisement which said only “non-Muslims” should apply for the position of sanitary workers.
So, the criteria for job of a sweeper/sanitary workers in Pakistan is just you should be “NON-MUSLIM ONLY”!!
Your job is to make filth only, and our is to clean only! pic.twitter.com/NxuAILWu87
— Kapil Dev (@KDSindhi) August 30, 2018
In January, the Swabi district council in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa adopted a resolution wanting sweepers hired in the district’s hospitals to be Christian only. It demanded that all Muslims posted as sweepers be transferred to other posts, such as those of guards or peons.
Mary James Gill told SAMAA Digital that the resolution was in violation of Article 27 of the Constitution. She condemned the move and said not only did it go against Quaid-i-Azam’s vision for the country, but also the basic principles of Islam.
A report by the World Watch Monitor said that minority representation in sanitation work in Pakistan is above 80%. According to the report, 824 of 935 sanitation workers in the Peshawar Municipal Corporation are Christian.
About 6,000 out of 7,894 sanitation workers in the Lahore Waste Management Company are Christian and 768 of 978 workers in the Quetta Municipal Corporation are Christian.
More than 95% of Pakistan’s 220 million people are Muslims. Less than 2% are Christians, Hindus or belong to other religions.