Pakistan: Sweeper job ad asking for Shias, Hindus, and Christians withdrawn

In Pakistan, sweeper jobs are ‘culturally’ reserved for non-Muslims like Hindus and Christians but perhaps for the first time, Shias have also made the cut in the ‘non-Muslim’ list.

Interestingly enough there is a separate mention of Balmikis for the job which is in line with the current policy of Pakistan on the census where Schedule Caste is a separate category. Is this being done to take away the demographic edge from the Hindu community after a significant rise in their numbers?

Pakistan census form lists Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Scheduled Caste and Other as religion options. Citizens can declare themselves Muslim, Christian or Hindu etc. They can also choose to select “members of scheduled castes” – members of marginalized Hindu families, or “other” if they feel like. While there are no separate options for Sikhs, Parsis or Baha’i. Sikhs in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are reportedly planning a protest.

The Muslims in Pakistan do not like to do sweeper jobs as they feel insulted, as this case shows.

Omar R Quraishi a journalist tweeted this sweeper job ad. He also said that the local govt in the Pakistani city of Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province advertised the jobs for sweepers especially mentioning that Hindus, Shias, Christians, Balmikis are eligible.

There were 14 vacancies for which Shias, Hindus, Balmikis, and Christians were eligible for. As per the advertisement, Balmiki mentioned separately means it was considered a separate religion by the advertisement givers.

The Bannu district and tehsil Nazim fall under Islamist party JUI-F (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F). But the good thing is that the administration realized its folly but not before Imran Khan, whose party is in power in the province, called for a crack down:

The apology has come on the sweeper job ads, but will it change the situation for Pakistani minorities which in the eyes of JUI-F also now include the Shias?

Sweeper job ad for non-Muslims

By Namta Gupta