ISLAMABAD: A job advertisement, recently published in leading newspapers, has generated a great deal of debate on social media over discrimination against people from smaller provinces.

The Marine Fisheries Department, through an advertisement published on March 17, announced vacancies in its regional office and testing laboratory in Gwadar, Balochistan. The advertisement specifies that four Grade 16 and 17 posts are open to only people domiciled in Punjab, while four Grade 1 posts are open to locals from Balochistan.

In the advertisement, the positions of Assistant Director Quality Control (BPS 17), Assistant Micro Biologist (BPS 16), Bio Chemist (BPS 16) and Computer Operator (BPS 16) are open only to people domiciled in Punjab. For lower level posts of Naib Qasid (BPS 1), Faraash (BPS 1), Watchman (BPS 1) and Sweeper (BPS 1), the department invites applications from locals.

On the face of it, this looks like outright discrimination. However, under Article 27 of the Constitution, there is nothing illegal about the advertisement. Article 27 safeguards against discrimination in jobs. If a person is qualified for a position in the service of Pakistan, there should not be discrimination against them based on race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth. However, for a period not exceeding 60 years, posts may be reserved for people belonging to a class or an area to secure their representation in the service of Pakistan.

The law further states that some jobs may be reserved for members of either sex, according to the requirements of the position.

Official says preference for Punjab domicile a must under Article 27

According to the rules, 7.5 per cent of all appointments in government jobs are to be made through open merit. Punjab and Islamabad are given 50 per cent quota, 19 per cent is allocated for Sindh that is divided between urban and rural, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has a 11.4 per cent share in the job quota, while six per cent is reserved for Balochistan, four per cent for Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan while two per cent is reserved for applicants from Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Marine Fisheries Department Deputy Director Abdul Jabbar Mirani told Dawn that he had received a lot of criticism ever since the advertisement was published.

“Some people said the specifications for the advertisement are unfair to people from Balochistan. However, the jobs have been advertised according to the rules,” he said.

Mr Mirani said that since Punjab enjoys the lion’s share of the quota, whenever a few vacancies are advertised, they go to people domiciled in Punjab by default. If there were a number of vacancies, they would be divided according to the quota.

However, he admitted that institutions run by the federal government were the only ones where this was a problem. The Gwadar Port will be operated by the federal government so jobs would be given according to the federal quota, he said.

“If the port was being operated by the provincial government, the situation would be different and local people would be appointed,” he said.

“Whether anyone likes it or not, the vacancies have been advertised according to law,” he concluded.

An official of the Ministry of Ports and Shipping told Dawn on condition of anonymity that people had raised these issues frequently but they did not understand that the law had to be observed until it was changed.

Voice of Missing Persons Chairman Nasrullah Baloch told Dawn that the sense of deprivation among the Baloch has only grown due to such policies.

“The residents of Balochistan have a right to vacancies in projects in their own province. Decades ago, when natural gas was discovered in Balochistan, people from Punjab came to work here,” he said.

“The Supreme Court and human rights organisations should take notice of the issue and ensure that all vacancies in Gwadar should be filled by people from Balochistan,” he said.

Mr Baloch also demanded that the Gwadar Port be handed over to Balochistan, but PML-N Senator Kalsoom Parveen told Dawn that the port cannot be handed over to Balochistan because ports are international concerns and were the purview of the federal government.

“All of Pakistan belongs to the people of Pakistan, no one should be stopped from working in other provinces. However, I do believe that priority should be given to the people of Balochistan for jobs in their province,” she said.

Supreme Court Advocate Riasat Ali Azad told Dawn that while he is also in favour of local people being given priority for jobs in their province, but the constitution must be followed.

“If the people have a problem, then the Constitution should be amended,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2015

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