quotas have destabilized Pakistan's largest city
By YesPakistan.com Staff
Karachi is Pakistan's largest
city, with a population of about 11 million people of varying ethnic and cultural
backgrounds. It accounts for 68 percent of urban Sindh's population.
The bustling city has a
per capital income over two-and-a-half times Pakistan's national average. Another
advantage is its relatively developed social and physical infrastructure.
In addition, in terms of
education, the city is the home of almost half the graduates and post-graduates
in Pakistan, and 60 percent of its labor force is educated
One would think that with
such benefits, it would be a ray of hope, a model city in Pakistan, where poverty
and illiteracy are often the order of the day. However, reality indicates the
opposite. Karachi is a mess and it has been in the news both locally and internationally
more often for the violence and mayhem that takes place there than for any kind
of social or economic progress, especially since 1985.
That was when ethnic conflicts
which have often been violent began slowly but surely destroying the fabric
and stability of a once great city. No government since 1985 has been able to
quell this deadly unrest. There are a number of socio-political reasons for
Karachi's current situation. But one which plays an important role is the resentment
among Karachi's unemployed educated youth.
The phenomena of the educated
unemployed is not new or specific to Pakistan. It can be found to some degree
in almost every country of the world. In 1994, nearly half of the unemployed
in Pakistan were educated.
The unemployment of the
educated is not only expensive, since it wastes valuable education dollars,
it is also socially disruptive. Jobless but educated youth often become hopeless
for any kind of future in Pakistan, or in a growing number of cases, become
part of the brain drain and leave for countries in industrialized nations where
there are more employment opportunities. In Karachi, it has led to social disruption
An unemployed person in
Karachi is over three times as likely to be literate than illiterate. The educated
unemployed are clearly overrepresented amongst the unemployed in urban Sindh
which has the highest adult literacy rate in the country (52 percent), but also
the highest number of unemployed Pakistanis who are literate (69 percent).
There are a number of reasons
for the phenomena of the educated unemployed in Pakistan. However, one of these
which has been at the center of the unrest in Karachi is regional quotas for
employment in the civil service. This has led to a situation where the underqualified
are getting jobs while the qualified have been shut out from these opportunities.
Despite the grim situation
in Karachi, the federal government maintains a policy of assigning regional
quotas for entry into the Federal Civil service. This practice was initiated
in 1973 when an exception was made to the "Fundamental Rights Clause"
in Pakistan's constitution. Under this clause, every Pakistani is entitled to
employment opportunities without any discrimination. However, with the 1973
amendment, an exception was made for 10 years, during which the Pakistani government
promised to improve education facilities and bring them up to speed with those
of the country's more developed areas.
Here's an example of how
the quotas work: urban Sindh, which is the most literate region of Pakistan,
is assigned only 7.6 percent of the jobs. This is only two-thirds of the jobs
available to Pakistanis from rural Sindh, which is half as literate, but has
a quota of 11.4 percent. The province of Punjab has a 50 percent quota in the
civil service. It is the only province where the adult literacy rate is lower
than the civil service quota (33 percent against a 50 percent share in the civil
In 1983, when the quotas
were to have expired, they were extended for another ten years. Although from
a legal perspective, this exceptional clause stands lapsed, in reality, these
regional quotas are still in use.
Although the aim of the
1973 quotas was to offer better chances to Pakistanis from disadvantaged areas
of getting into the civil service, they have clearly not fulfilled their goal.
For a Pakistani from Karachi, they have simply bred anger, resentment, unrest
and led to stolen job opportunities for the qualified. It is high time the situation
is corrected, not only for a more equitable distribution of jobs, but also,
for the safety and sanctity of Karachi.
Date/Time Last Modified: 6/17/2002 3:44:44 PM
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