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In a first, special CSS exam being held to induct minorities, women

In each exam, hardly one to 3 posts were being filled in against minority quota

By Umar Cheema
September 21, 2023
This picture shows students during an examination hall. — APP/File
This picture shows students during an examination hall. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: For the first time in Pakistan’s history, a special CSS examination is going to be held for inducting members of minority communities and women in order to fill in the seats reserved for them but remained vacant for years. The exam will begin from October 12 this year whereas a screening test has already been conducted, an FPSC official confirmed.

Although, candidates from minority and women have been appearing in exams, the seats reserved against these quotas would not be fulfilled. In the case of former, enough candidates wouldn’t appear. In each exam, hardly one to three posts were being filled in against the minority quota. Seats allocated for Punjab would often remain vacant.

In the case of the latter, women participating in the exam often turn out bright enough to compete on the open merit but overall passing candidates were not sufficient enough to accommodate them against the reserved quota. Women have 10 percent quota in the Central Superior Service Exam and the minority communities have 5 percent quota. Although quota has been mentioned in the Constitution since 1973, the rules were not made until a decade and a half ago. The quota for the women started in 2007 and for the minorities in 2009 and since then seats against them remained largely unfulfilled.

The first development to address this issue took place in 2022 when Dr Shoaib Suddle, head of National Commission for Minorities, ordered a census of the vacant posts reserved for minorities at the federal level and in all the four provinces. He directed the Establishment Secretary to report about the vacant slots in the Centre and to the chief secretaries in the provinces. The result was shocking even for Dr Suddle, a reputed retired officer of police service.

It turned out that 95 percent of jobs given to the minorities went to Christians and they were limited to the role of sweepers and janitors. In total, more than 33,000 posts allocated to minorities right from grade 1 to grade 17 had been lying vacant for years and hardly any effort was made to fill them in a country where there is an army of unemployed youth. Dr Suddle, whose commission has already done a laudable work in cleansing curriculum from hate against minorities and recovering occupied lands of Evacuee Trust Property Board worth billions, decided to do the needful for helping minorities get their due share in job quota.

He directed the FPSC and provincial commissions to fill in the slots allocated through competitive exams while issuing similar kind of orders to autonomous institutions having quotas for the minorities. The FPSC went a step further by also including women to fill in the slots vacant against the reserved quota. Consequently, online applications were invited against which 34,334 candidates applied and 21,920 qualified the screening test. Also included in it were seats reserved for quotas of different provinces.

As many as 1,263 minority candidates and 7,510 women candidates cleared the screening test whereas 14,410 candidates who applied against quotas of different provinces qualified for the written exam, which will be held next month. Some 61 percent of Punjab’s gazetted seats reserved for minorities remain unfilled, according to a document of Punjab Public Service Commission available with The News. The PPSC had conducted this census on the direction of Dr Suddle-led National Minority Commission.

The PPSC has asked all the provincial secretaries to send special requisition to it for expeditiously filling up these posts. Data available with The News indicates the majority of unfilled posts reserved for minorities are in Punjab’s Higher Education. Against 122 total posts, 46 are filled and 76 are vacant. Police stand second in this category.

Against 83 posts, 27 are filled and 56 are vacant. Primary & secondary healthcare is at third position in having the majority of unfilled positions. Out of 73 slots, 28 are occupied and 45 are still vacant. In total, there are 423 gazetted posts for the minorities in Punjab and 259 of them are vacant.