Job vacancies of “janitors” requiring the applicant to be Christian spark annoyance

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Job ads for non-Muslims

A controversial job advertisement has sparked widespread anger among the Christians in Pakistan.

According to details, an advertisement was publicized by the Institute of Cardiology in Lahore explaining that only non-Muslims will be eligible to apply for the job of male and female sweeper.

The advertisement has been deemed as a humiliation of the non-Muslims; generally the word non-Muslim here is assumed to be for Christians. These advertisements were widely circulated throughout the country and have sparked great anger among the Pakistani Christians. It has been assumed that low-ranking jobs have been specifically assigned to the Christians.

In this regard, when Sohail Mushtaq Medical Superintendent of Punjab Institute of Cardiology was contacted by BBC, he displayed hesitation in presenting a clarification over using mortifying words used in the job advertisement. He claimed that he had no part to play in the publishing of these advertisements. He told that these advertisements are produced by Government of Punjab. “Why don’t you ask Secretary Health Punjab?” However, when Secretary Health of Punjab was contacted and asked regarding the controversial advertisement he did not reply.

An organisation working for the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan, National Commission for Justice and Peace has taken strongly condemned this advertisement. Cecil S. Chaudhary from National Commission for Justice and Peace has said that this advertisement expresses double standards and twofold discrimination on part of the Government of Punjab.

“It appears that such small jobs are only for non-Muslims and in the eyes of the society they have been limited to specific types of work. Second, you are also discrimination against Muslims that they can not submit their applications for this job vacancy,” Cecil said.

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He also said that his organisation is considering challenging Punjab Institute of Cardiology in the court for publishing such degrading advertisement which tarnish the overall impressions of minorities specially the Christians.

On the other hand, a Human rights activist and journalist Asif Aqeel said that jobs advertisements of this kind are published mostly on behalf of the hospitals. He pointed out that earlier in June, two other hospitals namely Lady Wellington Hospital and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, also had publicized advertisements for job vacancies for janitor calling in for a non-Muslim or Christian, as requirements for the vacancy.

Additionally Asif Aqeel, stated that such advertisements reflect the foul mentality of our society. This mentality limits and associates trivial jobs with non-Muslim Pakistanis.

He further explained that this idea is not necessarily concerned with the religion, but castes find importance in the Sub-continent. There are certain specific jobs which are related to certain specific caste or religion. Majority of the Christians in Pakistan find their roots in the low casts of Hindus who are known as “untouchables”

It is necessarily because of this specific mentality that if Pakistani Christians submit applications for higher jobs they have to face discrimination and difficulties. Five years ago a Pakistani Christian Naeem Masih resident of Kasur submitted an application for Maib Qasid (Deputy Messenger) but was rejected for this job. However, he was appointed for a job of janitor for which he never applied. Naeem despite having studied till Matric was forced to work as a janitor. Naeem filed a petition against this appointment in the Lahore High Court, nonetheless, his petition is still pending with the Lahore High Court.

Asif Aqeel maintains that it is hard for a marginalised Pakistani to challenge these decisions. In fact, it is the mind set of our society which needs to be renewed. The mindset which considers it a favour to offer jobs of janitors to the Christian community needs to be changed.