The religious minorities of Sindh not only remain under threat in the province’s rural areas but also face discrimination in the developed towns and cities.
A Hindu reporter, when he was identified as a scheduled caste religious minority member, was forced to drink water from a separate glass at his workplace in Karachi a few years ago.
Sahib Khan Oad, a senior reporter with the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) — a government news agency — had revealed that he was asked to use a separate glass for water and other utensils for eating.
Oad hails from Dadu district of Sindh, and was initially appointed as a reporter in APP Islamabad but was then transferred to Hyderabad and later, Karachi.
Since he possesses a name common among Muslims as well, Oad continued to work without any discrimination until his son, Raj Kumar, visited his office one day and was introduced to the staff.
“Actually my name contains the word ‘Khan’ so everyone in the office initially thought I was Muslim,” The Express Tribune quoted him saying in a 2016 report. “The bureau chief asked me to separate my drinking water glass in the office because some colleagues had reservations.”
During one Ramazan — a special holy month when Muslims observe fasts — he was not allowed to sit at the same table with his Muslim co-workers during Iftar time. His senior colleagues suggested he bring his own plates and glasses if he wants to eat in the office. “I have now bought a separate glass and plate for the office,” he shared.
APP’s then Karachi bureau chief, Parvez Aslam, had denied that Oad was asked to use separate utensils. After the news was published in the English daily, Oad was forced to withdraw his complaint and had to go on leave as the discrimination continued.
His transfers continued until he proceeded for a PhD to China. But even then the alleged discrimination did not cease. According to sources, Oad was granted leave without pay while a couple of Muslim staffers of APP were granted leave along with pay when they took a break for their studies.
Having recently completed his PhD from China, Oad has resumed working at the Karachi bureau of the APP but refused to comment on how the workplace situation is at the moment.