Karachi (Agenzia Fides) – “I left my job with a multinational company in Karachi the day my manager told me not to use the same objects and utensils as my Muslim colleagues. I was told to take them home with me and keep them separate from the others in the office. At that point I wondered what was going on: am I not a human person too? Within minutes I decided to quit the job”: Fides was told this by Parmala Ravi Shankar, a Hindu religious activist. Of the same nature is the notorious Mrs Asia Bibi case: her “error” was that she used the same utensils, for example drinking cup, as her Muslim colleagues .
Hundreds of similar cases in Pakistan, reveal the high rate of discrimination regarding members of religious minorities in society. The matter was discussed recently at a meeting convened by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, HRCP and the Child and Labour Welfare Organisation, CLWO) which brought together people from all over Pakistan.
Fides learned from Moezam Ali, CLWO president, “the purpose is to discover with a survey how widespread in Karachi and Hyderabad, in Sindh Province, is the phenomenon of discrimination at work and how this affects peoples’ lives”. The study cases, to be published in a report, will be carried out with the help of 400 non-Muslim workers in Sindh Province.
Kashif Anthony Javed, coordinator of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), a commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, told Fides: “All religions teach love, peace and acceptance of others. Whereas discrimination of religious minority members is the result of a mind-set typical of people who promote hatred and violence. However it should be said that the majority of Pakistanis uphold and promote the rights of religious minority groups”.
The Justice and Peace Commission recalls the case of government school teacher Faysal Masih the only Christian teacher at his school, sacked under pretext. Faysal Masih, father of four children, had difficulty maintaining his family and the NICP provided for them until he found another job.
It is a fact that in Pakistan religious discrimination is present in daily life: recently the Sindh local government issued a notice calling for new cleaning staff in the Sindh Police force. The notice said clearly that the cleaner jobs were reserved for non-Muslims only. Everywhere in Pakistan only Christians and Hindus are employed to clean the streets and collect refuse.
Also school texts are discriminatory and frequently state“Muslims are superior to non-Muslims ”.
Human rights activist Abdul Mateen, a Muslim, tells Fides: “It is sad to see Hindu members of staff discriminated against. As staff we have meals together, but Hindu employees have to sit separately. It was difficult but in the end they realised that this was a discriminating inhuman way of thinking. The challenge to rid work places of discrimination, remains. It will take time but we have hope and will succeed”. (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides 18/10/2017)