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5/24/2024 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) An ad calling for a sweeper in northwest Pakistan is being denounced as discriminatory to Christians in the region. 

Pakistani sweepers work notoriously difficult, hazardous jobs with little pay and perform tasks such as manual sewage cleaning and sweeping garbage from the street. A medical company called Trans-Continental Pharma posted an announcement on Saturday seeking to hire sweepers, noting that the “Christian community [would] be preferred.”  

Christians have faced discrimination in Pakistan for decades, and many are considered second-class citizens. This is due, in part, to the nation’s decades-old caste system, which confines an individual’s opportunities to those that are in line with their ancestors. For example, if an individual’s parents were farmers, that individual would be restricted to farming, and so on. Pakistani Christians have long been relegated to the lower end of the caste, though officially abolished, and struggle to be seen as anything else. 

Discriminatory remnants of the caste system are alive and well in the Indian sub-continent. Christians are often referred to as “Chuhra,” a derogatory term for a low-lying caste member in society who faces a difficult climb out of maltreatment.  

Christians represent a small minority of Pakistan’s population, around 2%, and are largely confined to sweeper work and other hazardous jobs. According to The New York Times, when Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, “tried to recruit Muslims to unclog gutters, they refused to get down into the sewers, instead sweeping the streets. The job was left to Christians … known derogatorily as ‘choora,’ or dirty.” 

Many of these Christians develop health issues as a result of toxic fume inhalation, and some even reach the point of death. 

In an interview with Christian Daily International, a Punjab Assembly Christian legislator, Ejaz Augustine, explained the discrimination that Pakistan’s Christians face. 

“The attitude within Pakistan is as though the Christians were in the country to clean up after Muslims,” Augustine stated. “How can one expect greatness from a nation that does not even know how to clean its streets and treats its sanitary workers as sub-humans?” 

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