Long Behind Schedule: A Study on the Plight of Scheduled Caste Hindus in Pakistan

By Zulfiqar Shah

List of Contents

Caste-Based Discrimination in South Asia: Study of Pakistan 7-10

- Introdution

- Methodology

- The Research Team

- Cooperation and collabration

- Limitations

Section I Untouchability and Descent Based Discrimination 11-15

- Caste System

- Caste / Untouchables – define (the term)

- Census/ Population

Section II State and Caste 16-23

- State & Caste

- International Commitments

- Constitutional Provisions

- Legislation and Policies

- Interview with Advocate Rochi Ram

Section III Economic and Social Status of Scheduled Castes 24-31

- Lower Access to Capital Assets

- Higher Proportion of Wage Labour

- Discrimination in wage earnings

- Higher Incidence of Poverty

- Low Literacy Rate

- Poor Health

- Housing

Section IV Nature and Extent of Untouchability and Discrimination 32-39

- Nature and extent of untouchability and discrimination

- Residential segregation

- Denial of access to basic public services

- Discriminatory Treatments in Public Services

- Discriminatory Restrictions on Public Behaviour

- Pakistani Dalits suffer more than other minorities: an interview with S. Valasai

- Isn’t this untouchability? Case Study

Section V Labour market discrimination 40-47

- Labour market discrimination

- Discrimination on other factors

- Entitlement

Section VI Discrimination in political sphere 48-58

- Participation in political process

- Local Government

- Participation in development process

- Population and voting rights

- Representation in legislative bodies

- Separate and Joint electoral System

Section VII Discrimination in Education 59-64

- Education in Pakistan : a brief overview

- Education and drop out in scheduled caste concentrated districts

- Discrimination in education

o Discrimination in curriculum

o Discrimination by teachers and students

Section VIII Bonded Labour and Caste 65-71

- Overview of bonded labour

- Nature of Bondage

- Who are bonded labourers?

- Magnitude and intensity

- Reasons of Bondage

o Caste

o Low wages and faulty accounting

o Feudalism and landholdings

o Labour exploitation in wider context

- Manu’s story- Case Study

Section IX Multiple discrimination of Dalit Women 72-76

- Multiple discrimination of Dalit women

- Abductions and forced conversion

- Sexual Violence

- Case Study (box)

- Domestic violence

- Education and skills

- Denial of access to basic facilities

- Discrimination in wages

- Case Study-1

- Case Study-1I

- Case Study-1II

Section X Recommendations 77-79

- Recommendations

Notes 81-83

Caste-Based Discrimination in South Asia: Study of Pakistan


Caste-based discrimination affects 260 million people globally. The largest number of affected people is located in South Asia and the most affected countries are India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The victims of caste-based discrimination are commonly known as “Dalits.”

These Dalits have been studied in a number of affected countries. Except India, research in other countries has been very limited. In case of Pakistan, there is no or a rare documentation available on Dalits who are officially termed as scheduled castes.

Pakistan was created on 14th August 1947 on the basis of religion (Islam), when its leaders demanded a separate homeland for Muslims. Since then the state has tried to portary all Pakistanis as one nation. The state in its reports to international treaty bodies denies existence of any kind of discrimination including caste and racial because Pakistan is a society based on Islamic values. It did not recognise word Dalit’ and has always declined to declare caste discrimination a crime arguing that there cannot be caste discrimoination in a Muslim country.

This indifferent attitude of the state and lack of interest on the part of indepenent institutions and acdemia has resulted in absence of any reliable data and documenataion on caste based discrimination in general and on the status of scheduled castes in particular.

To bridge this gape, International Dalit Solidrity Network (IDSN), in colbration with Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS) decided to conduct separate studies in all the major South Asian countries to collect basic information on the status of Dalits in these countries. These studies are expected to be compiled in a book volume as a South Asian research on caste based discrimination.

This study on Pakistan is part of the IDSN and IIDS jont intitiave. In the absence of any reliable secondry information available in Pakistan on the subject, this study heavily rely on a survey conducted on 750 households in four districts -- Tharparkar and Umerkot in Sindh and Rahimyar Khan and Bahawalpur in Punjab province. In addition, qualitative interviews were conducted in urban areas of Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore and Multan.

Though caste and issues concerned to it are very much relevent to over all society in Pakistan where one’s identity and status is determined by the caste, this study exclusively focus on scheduled caste Hindus in Pakistan.

Touching to the caste issue within Muslims would have been like opening a pandora box which would have needed huge resources, time and energy to study and anlyse the issues prevelent within 160 million Msulim population, which is divided in hundereds of castes and tribes.

Thus, this study focussed on low caste Hindus officially termed as scheduled castes. They are equal to those known as Dalits in India and elsewhere. The resason to focus on scheduled caste Hindus was that they are the single largest group which falls victim to caste based discrimination including untouchablity. They are the poorest of the poor and marginlised within marganilised.

This study looks into the status of scheduled castes in Pakistan, their socio-economic problems, legal and constitutional protections, and the issues of discrimination on the basis of caste, religion and lower status in the society.

It is interesting to note that the issue of Dalits was first time discussed in Pakistan in January 2006 after 56 years when the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) in collaboration with Thardeep Rural Development Programme TRDP organized a seminar on Caste based Discrimination in Pakistan in Karachi.

IDNS visit was folowed by this research, which is first of its kind in Pakistan. The research was concevied collection of information on Pakistani Dalits (scheduled caste Hindus) and caste-based discrimination in Pakistan mainly on the basis of avaiable secondry material.

But there was hardly any material available on the issue of Dalits except a recent small booklet inUrdu 1 . Even there was very rare media reports on the issue to browse and analyse. To fill in that gap of data a comprehensive survey of 750 Dalit households was conducted in both Sindh and Punjab.

In this background the study is pioneer and first detailed monograph of Pakistani Dalits. Though efforts have been made to find any old or new material available and references are used in the study, the study itslef has mostly drawn insights from personal interviews of scheduled caste community members and members of other groups.

The study is just first step towards investigatig caste-based discrimination in Pakistan particularly within scheduled caste Hindus. There obviosuly is need to carry further work on the subject and it is hoped that more researchers and institutions would get interested in the subject.


The study is based on both quantative and qualitative data. Serious attempts were made to search secondry information but there was only partial success. Since no government document provides caste based segregated data, it was decided to conduct a survey on 750 households in Rahimyar Khan, Bahawalpur, Tharparkar and Umerkot districts. A special questionaire was developed aimed at extracting information concerning to socio -economic and political status of scheduled castes in Pakistan. The research team went door to door in the remote areas to fill in questioanaires and interact with Dalit population. The data was scientifically analysed by an experieced data analysts and converted into tables and graphs. It is the first of such surveys conducted on Dalits in Pakistan.

Sample Distribution by Region

Southern Punab 31%

Tharparkar 35%

Umerkot 34%

In addition to the survey, the focus group discussions were held to validated the survey data and seek additional information. A national workshop was held in June 2007 which was attended by 50 participants including five ex- scheduled caste parlimentarians, lawyers, civil society actors, academicians, jouranlists and community representatives including those who were researched.

Individual interviews with Dalit representatives were also conducted to have insights on the issues faced by scheduled castes and caste based discrimination in Pakistan. Random visits to scheduled caste villages not included in the survey also provided broader overview of the issue.

The Research Team:

The research is out come of team work. The team included

Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah, Lead Researher/ Project Coordinator

Ms. Bushra Khanum ( Field work coordinator in Punjab)

Mr. Pirbhu Lal Satyani ( Field work coordinator in Sindh)

Mr. Shujauddin Qureshi who helped in collecting secondry information.

The fieldwork insipred a number of young people at local level who either filled in forms or were present along with field inumerators. Field notes provided a lot of insights on the interest of local young people in the issue; couple of them were invited at national workshop held in June in Karachi. Immense interest by these young people stresses up on the need of conducting further indepth study on the subject in future.

Local Cooperation and collabration

The study had been conducted in collabration with Thardeep Rural Development Programme (TRDP) and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER). Cooperation extended by Mr. Surrender Velasai, President of Scheduled Castes Federation of Pakistan (SCFP), Mr. Ramesh Jaipal of Hariram Foudataion, Rahimyar Khan and Lala Ajmal Bheel in Bahawalpur was a great help.


The study has been conducted by comparatively a team of young researchers. In the absence of any

earlier work on the subject, it heavly depend on data extracted from the survey conducted for the purpose of the study. Since the study is first of its kind so there are chances that all issues may have not been covered. It is also a fact that the whole project has been executed within a short period of one year so the sample size and other efforts to seek information on the issues are limited.

The study has also not touched caste within Muslims due to limited time and resources; there is need to do a detailed research on caste based discrimination within Muslims. This piece of work is limited only to scheduled caste Hindus.


Untouchability and Descent Based Discrimination

1.1 Caste System

1.2 Untouchables

1.3 Dalit Population

1.1 Caste System

Pakistan’s estimated population in year 2007 is 160 million. The official census is due next year to determine the exact number of people living in the country. The last census was held 9 years ago in 1988, according to which total population of the country was about 140 million.

Muslims are in overwhelmingly majority. Of the four percent minority population Christians and Hindus are major groups. Pakistan census report did not provide further caste or tribe based segregated data.

Population No Population (%)

Total Population 132, 352, 279

Muslims 127, 433, 409 96.3

Hindus (Jatis) 21,11,171 1.60

Scheduled Castes 332,343 0.25

Christian 2092,902 1.59

Qadiani 0.22

Other religions 0.07

Source: Pakistan Census Report 1988, Census Department Govt. of Pakistan

The territory, which makes Pakistan today has been part of the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years and has a shared history, culture, traditions, and systems with sovereign states, which were also part of British India.

Pakistan became a separate nation state in 1947 after much bloodshed, human suffering and mass migration as a result of the partition process. The partition divided Subcontinent into two countries India and Pakistan on religious basis.

Pakistan became a majority Muslim and India a Hindu majority country. But the population exchanged on the basis of religion had shared history, culture, traditions and societal system.

The rulers in Pakistan had tried to sooth the wounds of partition by telling people that they are one nation- ‘Pakistanis’. Once again religion was used as tool to convince people that the country is established in the name of religion and they are all Muslims and one nation- Pakistani.

In complete rejection of historical reality that the people who inhibited Pakistan had distinctive cultures, speak different languages and divided on the basis of ethnicity, tribes and castes, the rulers relied on a strong central system of governance as a strategy to make Pakistan one nation2.

Introduction of One Unit system of the government was also an attempt, in which the western parts of Pakistan were declared as one West Pakistan and the eastern portion (now Bangladesh) was called East Pakistan. The strategy to portray Pakistan as one nation has become rhetoric of rulers during last six decades, the reality is Pakistan was never one nation and may never be one nation.

The country is sharply divided on ethnic, linguistic and sectarian basis; caste and tribes are entrenched in the system, which further divides people on the basis of descend, status and occupation.

Broadly speaking, the country is divided within half a dozen linguistic and ethnic groups or nationalities i.e Pakhtoons, Punjabis, Sindhis, Baloches, Saraiki, Brohi, and Urdu speaking Muhajirs who migrated as result of partition.

It is also interesting to note that nationalists who have resisted Pakistani rulers in their bid to declare the entire population as one nation have also tried to down play with the existence of divide on the basis of caste within what they call nations.

Without going into the definition of what makes a nation, if we look at the reality then it is obvious that Pakistan as a whole as well as these nations are divided on the basis of different castes.

“The caste is so obvious and important in Pakistan that you go on streets and talk to people, first question you would be asked is about your caste. It has become an important identity issue3.”

All these nations Pakhtoons, Punjabis, Sindhis, Balochis despite shared religion and ethnicity are further divided in uneven castes and tribe systems. And once status in society is determined on the basis of caste, not on the basis of ethnicity or religion. Ironically, the caste contradicts with the principle of equality as entire social, economic and political system is governed by the caste not by any other principle.

The caste system, as it is commonly known, may be more entrenched within Hinduism but it cannot be confined to any specific religion. It may be found in all the religions and Islam has no exception.

Official census does not include a column of caste so there is no authentic data available on the number of castes and their population in Pakistan. Independent scholars mention hundreds of castes inhabiting Pakistan.

1.2 Caste / Untouchables

The Pakistan as state is in sheer denial of caste-based discrimination. The argument is that Islam teaches equality so there is no question of discrimination on the basis of caste in an Islamic country. From Quaid Azam to General Pervez Musharaf, the Pakistani rulers have always claimed that religious minorities enjoy equality in Pakistan. In preamble constitution defines Pakistan “ a democratic state based on Islamic principles and social justice”.


Scheduled castes representatives and other social activists have rejected the figures issued by census department on the basis of population census of 1998. They say the number is much lesser than actual population of the scheduled caste. The government should incorporate suggestions of scheduled caste community representatives in designing of population census process. A committee headed by a judge of higher court should be formed to oversee the counting of scheduled castes and they must be counted on the basis of caste not religion.

Quaid-e-Azam was particularly specific to Hindu caste system when he mentioned that the lower caste Hindus would enjoy equal status and rights in Pakistani society.

Contrary to these tall claims, evidences -- press reports, human rights group reports, newspapers, magazine reports, independent analysis and a recent survey conducted on 750 households in Sindh and Punjab provinces-- speak volumes of indifferent attitude meted out to Pakistani lower castes with physical and material insecurity on the top.

Though Pakistan’s majority Muslim population, forced by the rulers to become one nation (Pakistanis), is also sharply divided on the basis of caste and tribe basis, which determines their status in the society.

Pakistan’s lower caste Hindus officially known as scheduled castes are the worst victims of discrimination on the basis of caste, descend and occupation. They are in dually disadvantageous position as they are Hindu (minorities in a Muslim majority country, it is a disadvantage itself), and also lower castes. They are frequently described “achoots” or untouchables.

It is interesting to note that Islam shuns any discrimination on the basis of caste, yet it is very much there within the society and several Muslim castes are considered lower than that of other castes.

For example Mallah and Machhi, two castes of fishing communities are considered lower and are discriminated in different walks of life. Observations and interviews with community people suggest that in many cases discrimination goes to an extent where untochablity is obvious. They also face a lot of hatred.

Similarly, some castes are discriminated on the basis of occupation and face indifferent attitude. For example Mochi, (cobblers), Pather (brick maker), and Bhangi (sweeper) are considered lower castes on the basis of occupation regardless of their religion belonging. Mostly they are Muslims.

The focus of this study is on Pakistan’s Scheduled Castes (lower caste Hindus) residing in lower districts of Sindh and Southern Punjab in Pakistan.

Lower caste Hindus or Scheduled castes or Pakistani Dalits are unofficially untouchable people within a country, which claims equality. They face discrimination in every walk of life.

In 1956, Pakistan government declared about 32 castes and tribes as scheduled castes in the country. Majority of them are lower castes Hindus such as Kolhi, Menghwar, Bheel, Bagri, Balmaki, Jogi and Oad Majority of these castes reside in Tharparkar and Umerkot districts in Sindh and Rahimyar Khan and Bahawalpur districts in South Punjab

6. These districts share border with India.

Survey, focus group discussions and interviews with local people conducted for the purpose of this study suggest that these communities are often described untouchable by both upper caste Hindus and Muslims.

Apart of treated as untouchables and humiliated, they are socially and physically excluded from mainstream as they are compelled to segregated housing and are denied social, political and economic rights.

It is not only that they are called untouchables but also untouchability is demonstrated in shape of making sure that scheduled castes live in separate colonies, they are served in separate crockery, they cannot sit inside with upper castes. Untouchability is obvious in all private and public spheres of life.

Census/ Population:

Scheduled castes population, according to official statistics, is only 332,343

Ordinary scheduled castes as well as their political representatives, which consider that the discrimination starts from their exclusion in headcount, challenge these figures.

They say their numbers have been deliberately shown less and their less number is also a main reason of their backwardness as they are not considered a major group in numbers.

According to the last census held in 1998, total population of Hindus in Pakistan is 2,443,514 of which 2,111,171 are Hindu Jatis (upper castes) and 332, 343 are scheduled castes Hindus (lower castes).

Total Hindu Population 2,443,514 Jati (upper castes) 2,111,171

Scheduled castes (lower castes) 3 32, 343

Source: Pakistan Census Report 1988, Govt. of Pakistan

Scheduled caste population is overwhelmingly rural as 90 percent or 3,07,509 live in villages and rural areas and only 24,834 are living in urban areas. Majority of Pakistani rural population are agriculture workers with no rights and facilities.

Scheduled caste representatives including five former legislators, in a consultation held in June 2007, simply reject the official statistics about the population of upper and lower caste stating that it is vise versa. The population of scheduled castes is two millions.

They say that majority of Hindus in Pakistan are scheduled castes where as census reports shows the number in reverse order -- upper castes in majority and scheduled castes in minority. Local officials and Muslim intellectuals in the districts covered under the study also verify this claim and say that all evidences suggest that majority of Hindus are scheduled castes.

Interestingly, census process in Pakistan has been a controversial subject and often delayed on objections from different ethnic and linguistic groups. It is not a surprise if the scheduled castes are questioning it.

Comparison between official statistics and the claim by scheduled castes regarding their population indicates that 90 percent scheduled caste populations has either been missed from this very important count or have been wrongly marked to other categories.

Whatever the case may be, the community, which is already marginalized, is paying heavy price of this exclusion from very important official document as most of the development schemes and share in political power is decided on the basis of population census.

Dalit representatives consider it a conspiracy of the perpetuators of the caste system who do not want to see this marginalized section of the population uplifting. They consider it vested interest as so far upper castes represent Hindus in parliament and government bodies.

An analysis of the data form used for census and interviews with enumerators suggests that the problem starts with the design of the form and also with the process and knowledge of the people involved in the head count.

It seems that the data form is designed for majority population, as it did not carry any specific question to determine exact number of smaller sections of the population. The data form asks questions about language and religion; most probably the fault lies at this stage.

It is most likely that many scheduled castes have been marked in the category of Hindus and have been counted as Jatis. Due to lack of education and weaker social status, they do not insist on to be counted as scheduled castes and enumerators also do not probe further if some one says he/she is Hindu. The chances are that the scheduled castes communities might have just been counted in the category of Hindus.

There are also chances that a large number of scheduled castes have been missed during the process of counting. Scheduled caste communities live in rural areas and many of their groups are gypsy in nature. They migrate to irrigated areas when there is drought in the desert; some of them for example, Jogis are always roaming around so they might have been missed in the head count. It is also feared that they might have been deliberately missed or wrongly counted because enumerators in many areas belong to upper castes Hindus and Muslims


State and Caste

2.1 International Commitments

2.2 Constitutional Provisions

2.3 Legislations and Policies

2.4 Interview with Advocate Rochi Ram (Box)

State and Caste

Pakistani state does not recognize caste an issue and it clearly denies the existence of caste-based discrimination in the country. However, the reality is quite different as caste plays a major role in determination of one’s status in the society. Pakistani society is sharply divided on the basis of haves and have nots, where as division on the basis of urban and rural, men and women, Muslim and non- Muslims and upper and lower castes is also visible. Denial on the part of state has further aggravated the situation, as successive governments have not bothered to put in place an appropriate set of legislative and legal measures to condemn caste and descend based discriminations.

2.1 International Commitments:

Pakistan is signatory of General Assembly Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. This Declaration was unanimously proclaimed by the UN General Assembly Resolution 36/55 on November 25, 1981. The declaration was adopted in the light of the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations that the dignity and equality are inherent in all human beings, and Member States have pledged to promote and encourage universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.

Article 2 of the declaration clearly explains that the expression "intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief" means any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on religion or belief. Similarly Pakistan was also quick in ratifying International Convention on the Elimination of al Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) as the country signed and ratified the convention in September 1966 just nine months after the convention was adopted by General Assembly of the United Nations on 21 December 1965.

The convention defines the term “racial discrimination” as any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin, which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing of human rights and fundamental freedoms in political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

Under these international obligations Pakistan is obliged to end all forms of discrimination, yet the state has failed to comply with international obligations.


Pakistan government must declare caste based discrimination a punishable crime and enact necessary laws allowing prosecution of perpetrators of discrimination on the basis of caste. Indian legislation in this regard can be taken as model.

Unfortunately despite these commitments discrimination with marginalized groups is widespread. Scheduled castes are worst hit as they are at the bottom in all development indicators. Pakistan government’s commitments at international bodies seem half-hearted and lack political will. The state has yet to make a declaration under article 14 of ICERD to authorize the Committee on Elimination of Rcial Discrimination (CERD) to receive complaints from individuals or groups of individuals. The committee has requested Pakistan government to consider such a submission. None seriousness is obvious from Pakistan’s irregular reporting to the international body. The last report submitted by Pakistan was in 1997 that too after the lapse of 10 years. Since then five to six reports are overdue as per UN record.

The committee in its remarks on last report has raised nine points of concern and forwarded 14 recommendations aimed at ending discrimination. State’s adherence to the recommendations and any corrective measures taken can only be ascertained when next report is submitted.

A shadow report prepared by a group of students notes that Pakistan in its country reports to international bodies such as CERD refer ideological texts and persistently denies existence of any racial discrimination on the ground that the society is based on Islamic values. However, domestic legislation lacks binding legal provisions based on universal values and respect for human rights.

Same report further notes that some Islamic provisions introduced in the constitution and legislation are rather discriminatory. For instance, Shariat Court does not allow a non-Muslim counsel to appear before it. This means a non-Muslim can not go for litigation against an act of racial or any other discrimination even under Islamic principles.

2.2 Constitutional Provisions

The founder of the country Muhammad Ali Jinnah had idealized Pakistan with clear separation of religion and politics, and he had declared that religion would have very little to do with the affairs of state.

Jinnah, well aware of the discrimination and divide on the basis of caste in British India, had clearly declared: “I wish to say a word to make the position of the Muslim League clear. As far as the Scheduled Castes and other minorities are concerned their just claims

will have to be met before any complete settlement is achieved. I can tell my friends of the Scheduled Castes that at no time have I overlooked their interests and position and I may claim that in the past I have done all I could to help them, and I shall always stand for their protection and safeguard in any future scheme of constitution for I think that the wrongs and injustices inflicted on them for centuries should not be allowed to continue under any civilized form of government."


Government of Pakistan should announce a constitutional package including provisions for necessary protection and a set of affirmative actions for scheduled caste Hindus and other vulnerable groups.

The government can seek technical support from institutions such as UNDP in preparing such a package.

Religiosity in Pakistani Constitution

• Islam Shall be the state religion

• Head (president) of the state will be a Muslim

• Prime Minister will also be a Muslim

• Laws must be according to Islamic injunctions

• Establishment of Council of Islamic Ideology

• Establishment of Shariat Court

• Ahamedis are Non-Muslims

Various articles of the Constitution of 1973

Contrary to Quaid-e-Azam’s vision, the Constitution of Pakistan defines the country as an Islamic state. It says: “Islam shall be the state religion of Pakistan, and its head must a Muslim man.” Legal experts and social scientists also consider a number of Articles in the Constitution as discriminatory in nature and against the religious minorities and even against women.

Council of Islamic Ideology and Federal Shariat Courts were also established by amending the Constitution to provide institutional mechanism for the interpretation of Islam from clergy’s point of view.

This and many other such provisions of the Pakistani Constitution make it exclusionary with laws and provisions, which clearly discriminate against other religions. Pakistan’s Constitution, often suspended and ruthlessly amended by the frequent military regimes, did not provide any protection to minorities in general and scheduled castes in particular.

The Constitution, which declares Pakistan as an “Islamic Republic,” talks of equality with a general statement: “all citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection” It, however, did not mention protection of rights of scheduled castes and other such marginalized sections or provides any mechanisms for protection for their interests.

Constitution’s Part two, which deals with Fundamental Rights, and Principles of Policy is further divided into two sections. Most of the fundamental rights have been included in chapter one which makes realization of these rights mandatory for state.

Chapter two titled as “Principles of Policy” mentions several basic rights but those are rather optional not mandatory for the state to implement. Surprisingly, protection of minorities and promotion of social and economic well being of the people is included in “Principles of Policy” Section.

The Article 36 and 38 are the most relevant for Scheduled Castes as the Article 36 says: “state shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities, including their due representation in the federal and provincial services.”

Similarly, the Article 38, on “promotion of social and economic well-being of people” says that the state shall “secure the well-being of people, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race by raising their standard of living, by preventing the concentration of wealth and means of production and distribution in the hands of a few to the detriment of general interest and by ensuring equitable adjustment of rights between employers and employees, and landlords and tenants.

These positive provisions in the constitution are over shadowed by religious provisions such as article 227 which clearly states that “all existing laws shall be brought in conformity with Islamic injunctions as laid down in Holy Quran.” Overwhelming powers to Council of Islamic Ideology and Federal Shariat court to throw out any law it considers repugnant to Islam has further weakened chances of seeking justice against any discrimination.

Legal experts opine that unlike India there is no provision in Pakistani Constitution or the relevant laws that condemn discrimination or one can take on legal proceedings against discrimination on the basis of caste.

The Constitution asks the government to take measures for uplifting of the backward communities, which can be applicable to scheduled castes. But that has not been taken seriously at any government level as promotion of social and economic wellbeing falls in principles of policy not in fundamental rights.

Legal experts suggest that there is no provision in the law that clearly condemns discrimination or talks about the protection of the rights of scheduled castes, which results in discrimination in social and economic life.

Many consider that the Constitution of Pakistan begins with discrimination as it declares that non- Muslim can not become president of the Pakistan. “A person shall not be qualified for election as president unless he is a Muslim of not less than forty five years of age.”

This is also in violation of international commitments made by Pakistan. For example article 5(c) of the ICERD provides the right to participate in elections to vote and stand for any position and take part in governance and conduct of public affairs at any level on the basis of universal and equal principles. This means excluding religious minorities from holding the office of president and prime minister is in violation of universal principles and based on discrimination.

Scheduled caste community and their political representatives while taking serious note of the discriminatory nature of the Constitution and its silence over the issues of Dalits, demand a Constitutional Package for uplifting of the scheduled castes.

The ideal Constitutional Package would end all discriminatory provisions making the supreme law a partial and just document with outlining steps and measures to uplift scheduled castes from their current backward situation.

It makes caste discrimination a crime with severe sentences for those who are practicing untouchability by declaring other humans as low caste.

2.3 Legislation and Policies

A responsible state and civilized nation is supposed to enact laws and make policies, which are beneficial for its citizens without any discrimination. Contrary to these democratic principles, many pieces of legislations and policies in Pakistan are discriminatory in nature, which deprive citizens from equal rights.

Majority of the discriminatory laws have been introduced during military regimes with some policies also formed in so-called democratic governments.

The regime of General Zia Ul Haq, was the worst in this regard. Zia, in his bid to prolong his own illegitimate rule took refuge in Islamization. He made several amendments in the Constitution, which resulted in wider exclusion of women and other marginalized groups such as scheduled castes. These changes were given constitutional cover through 8th amendment.

Zia introduced Ushar and Zakat (Islamic taxes), which were against even other sects of Muslims leave alone non-Muslims. Similarly, through an amendment in Article 260 of the Constitution, Ahmadis, a sect of Muslims were declared non-Muslims. The same article defined Muslims and non-Muslims.

This exclusionary definition of Islam led to shift in the attitude of military and civil bureaucracy, which had already considered the state a majoritarian Islamic state. Ahmadis were forcibly declared non Muslims against their faith and it was made a punishable crime for Ahmadis to identify themselves as Muslims

The worst came in the shape of Anti-Blasphemy law and Law of Evidence (Qanoon-e-Shahadat) through amendments in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The Law of Evidence is discriminatory in nature and against the universal principle of equality.

Scheduled Castes are obviously victims of this discrimination, which turns to be a hindrance in pursuance of legal proceedings. It also makes easy for a Muslim to initiate legal proceedings against scheduled castes. Though it is against all non-Muslims, the upper caste Hindus, rich Christians and other minorities can buy justice in a country like Pakistan, the scheduled castes have no other escape but to suffer due to their weaker socio-economic status.

Similarly, General Zia added two draconian and discriminatory clauses in the Blasphemy law. He added Clause B and C in Section 295 of PPC in 1982 and 1986 respectively, which made blasphemy of Quran and Prophet a crime punishable with life and death imprisonment.

These Blasphemy clauses have been used against both Muslims and non-Muslims. Scheduled castes complain that these laws used to threaten them to get undue benefits. During individual interviews as well as focus group discussions, scheduled castes quoted several undocumented events where people of their community were threatened by influential people that they would use Blasphemy laws against them. “A scheduled caste boy was accused of having illicit affair with a Muslim girl. He was beaten and then threatened that if he did not leave the village, they will accuse him of blasphemy. This threat was enough for the schedule caste family to leave village forever.”

Similarly, a young scheduled caste man was threatened to be tried under Blasphemy law if he did not begged apology from the entire village. His sin was that he was sleeping in the field with his legs in the direction of Qibla.

There is no legislation at local provincial level to protect the right of a person denied entry to a public place, to use water taps or teacups at a restaurant on the basis of religion or caste. The only remedy is to knock the door of constitutional court (High Court and Supreme Court), which poor scheduled castes couldn’t afford. Similarly, there is no law to provide compensation of factual damage caused due to practice of racial or any other discrimination.

Interestingly Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) provides prosecution against any act that creates ‘disharmony’. But this can go against marginalized groups rather than benefiting as those freely expressing concern against any discrimination would be considered creating ‘disharmony’.

The separate electoral system, which has been undone by Geneal Pervez Musharaf in 2002, also resulted in exclusion of non-Muslims including scheduled castes from mainstream political spectrum.

Separate electoral system was introduced by Zia through a Presidential Ordinance in 1984 which degraded the non-Muslims and made them a separate entity whose vote was not needed to Muslim candidates. This had resulted in a greater isolation where non-Muslims particularly poor scheduled castes carried no weight for a Muslim candidate in the same constituency.

As a result, they were being refused in smaller matters on the grounds that they were not voters of that particular public representative despite the fact that they lived in the same constituency.

Their villages were not included in the development schemes and were suggested to access to their own minority representatives. Unfortunately, those who got elected on special seats of minorities mostly were upper caste Hindus and lived far from the villages of poor scheduled castes making it very difficult to reach and access public representatives. In the separate electoral system, the entire country was the constituency for Member of National Assembly and entire province for Member of Provincial Assembly.

Though joint electoral system has been restored since 2002 general elections, it carries its own problems. Scheduled caste members say it will take time to restore the confidence of scheduled castes and create a relationship with local voters.

Ironically, there are many discriminatory laws and policies but hardly there is any affirmative action aimed at uplifting scheduled castes from their present backward situation.

Until any direct and indirect efforts have been taken by the government, it would be considered to be half hearted and bear no results. Bonded Labour (System) Abolition Act 1992 and quota system in jobs for scheduled castes are just cases in point. Existence of those laws does not ensure their implementation. No serious effort has been made by the government to fully enforce those laws.

Since scheduled castes makes majority of the bonded labour Haris in agriculture and even bonded labourers in other sectors such as brick kilns and lower caste Muslims (Musali Shiakh) also part of it, the Bonded Labour (System) Abolition Act 1992 is considered a major intervention on the part of state. But 15 years down the road, bonded labour continues in its naked shape and thousands of poor peasants are living their lives like slaves, making the mockery of the law. The laws have had very little impact.

In 2002, a Bonded Labour Fund was established as part of the law for the welfare of the children of released bonded labours, majority of whom are scheduled castes, a major portion of the fund lies with government functionaries unused even after the passage of five years where as the released bonded labours continue to live in camps in the outskirts of Hyderabad in subhuman conditions.

Similarly, there was a six percent quota reserved in the government services for scheduled castes and the law provided three years age relaxation in the jobs and admissions since 1948. This law was scrapped in 1998 during the regime of Mian Nawaz Sharif, a civilian Prime Minister. The Scheduled caste representative complain that two scheduled caste members in National Assembly at that time also did not raise any voice against this injustice. Others find no difference in having or not having quota, as it had never been implemented.

An official memo issued on 15th March 1993 by the Establishment Division accepted that there was clear violation of the six percent quotas reserved for Scheduled Castes and three years age relaxation. It directed all the concerned departments to strictly observe the quota but just five years after the memo was issued, the quota was removed.

Lack of any constitutional cover and policies based on affirmative action was quite obvious during field visits as most of the dalit settlements were deprived of basic amenities; and illiteracy among dalit households were high.

Interview with Advocate Rochi Ram

In the Constitution of Pakistan, there is no discrimination on the basis of caste, but Dalits or lower caste people suffer wide spread social, economic and political discrimination, said Mr. Rochi Ram, a senior advocate and human rights activist.

In an interview he said Pakistani Constitution asks the government to take measures for those communities which are backward, but it is not followed. In Pakistan Dalits have a benefit in a way that there is no discrimination in the Islamic theory, where as in Hinduism theory discrimination is there. So Dalits have an advantage in Pakistan that in Pakistani or Muslim society there is no hatred for them. But socially, they are already backward and the advantageous groups do not want to withdraw from that advantageous position. So Dalits or untouchables have twin disadvantage also. First, they are non-Muslims and the second is they are the lowest caste in Hindus. They are mostly nomads so they do not possession property documents, NIC or other papers.

Rochi Ram said Caste Hindus are very small in numbers in Pakistan . More than 90 percent are scheduled caste and Dalits. They need justice in over all Pakistani society, they do not need justice from the Hindu society because Hindu Caste people are already in small number and they are already unprivileged in Pakistan. Talking about plight of Dalits in Pakistan, Rochi Ram said Schedule Caste people in Pakistan are mostly backward,

illiterate, jobless and discriminated. By making laws their problems can not be solved. If socially, efforts are made to bring them forward and developed then their condition can be improved. For this the government can play a major role, but it seems, the government is not interested. “I feel the NGO people also do not understand the situation. They are still confused about Pakistani Dalits,” he opined.

In Sindh and parts of Southern Punjab majority of Dalits are working on agricultural fields as Haris or peasants. In Sindh Kolhis are replacing Muslims as peasants because being untouchable and non-Muslims Kolhis are suitable because they are docile in nature and can work as slaves and they do not confront with the landlords. Besides Kolhi, Bheel, Meghwars and Odhs are also scheduled caste and they are also working as peasants in Sindh.

The social and economic condition of Dalit peasants is very poor. In Sindh Hari is getting a meager share from the crop and Zamindar tries to just keep him alive so that he could not die otherwise who would cultivate the land.

“Hari, who is considered a fuel for revolution has now become Adiwasi or untouchable. So now Hari does not stand up for a movement or not taking guns. Zamindar is forcing Haris to live in his bond and they are socially and psychologically depressed. Every political party has its own Hari committee, NGOs have separate section for Haris, but none is working for rights of Haris.”

He said land reforms introduced during the era of Ayoub Khan and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, but none of them provided any relief to peasants. “Land reforms were actually cheating with landless Haris,” he remarked.

In laws there is a quota fixed for scheduled caste, but that quota is not being implemented. There are a lot Achhute advocates, but none of them have been made as judges. Even not a single scheduled caste civil or session judge is there. There are many minorities scholarships, but they are not given properly.

Involvement of scheduled caste youth in education for upliftment is a must. Talented youth should be given scholarships and other financial help to get higher education so that they come forward and can reach higher places. In Sindh villages should be developed, facilities be provided. Although the government has set up Goth Abad Scheme, it has not done much in a real sense. The villagers should be given property rights of their lands, where they live and can get loans from house building finance corporation to build their homes.


Economic and Social Status of Scheduled Castes

3.1 Lower Access to Capital Assets

3.2 Higher Proportion of Wage Labour

3.3 Discrimination in Wage Earnings

3.4 Higher Incidence of Poverty

3.5 Low Literacy Rate

3.6 Poor Health

3.7 Housing

3. 1 Lower Access to Capital Assets:

Scheduled caste population in Pakistan is overwhelmingly rural in nature. Of the total 332, 343 scheduled caste population, over 93 percent resides in rural areas and only seven percent is settled in urban settlements. In Sindh province scheduled caste population is concentrated in four districts -- Tharparkar, Umerkot, Mirpur Khas and Hyderabad. In Punjab majority of scheduled caste inhabits in Rahimyar Khan and Bahawalpur districts. Thus, 89 percent of the total scheduled castes population in Pakistan lives in above-mentioned six districts; except Hyderabad, all these districts are bordering with India.

Scheduled castes population Rural No &

( %) Urban No & (%)

Pakistan 3,32,343 3,07,509 (93) 24,834 (7)

Sindh Province 3,00,308 279,223 (93) 21,085 (7)

Punjab Province 23,782 21,258 (89) 2, 524 (11)

Source: Population Census Report of 1998

District wise break up of scheduled castes population

Name of district (Sindh) Population

Tharparkar 1,52,612

Umerkot 54,603

Mirpur Khas 33,595

Hyderabad 16,294

Name of district (Punjab) Population

Rahimyar Khan 17,449

Bahawalpur 876

Majority of rural population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. They work as labourer on agriculture, without having their own landholdings. These agricultural workers locally known Hari or Mazari in these districts are the poorest of the poor and most marginalized sections of the society. Scheduled caste concentrated districts in Sindh are also notorious for exploitation of labour as majority of bonded labour incidences are reported from these districts.

As in rural areas no industry or other business centres are located, so most of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood, and by working on share cropping conditions, they are vulnerable to bondage and other exploitations by the landlords.

Ironically, an overwhelming majority of scheduled castes have no or meager access to any property or assets. They are landless peasants with no other assets such as land property, gold or bank balance etc.

Since official data did not provide any segregated statistics on the basis of caste, the survey conducted for the purpose of this study in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Rahimyar Khan and Bahawalpur districts reveal that 83 percent scheduled caste population did not own even a small piece of land.

The land ownership by the remaining 17 percent is also very small as 90 percent of the scheduled caste land owners own a very small piece of land between one and five acres. There are more landless scheduled castes in Southern Punjab than in Tharparkar. In Thar desert many scheduled caste have land but that is mainly non- irrigated desert land and can be cultivated on rain water only.

Distribution of sample by having and not having land



Yes No

Ironically, the geographical location of scheduled castes is another disadvantage as Tharparkar, and major portion of Umerkot districts in Sindh are located in Thar desert and Bahawalpur and Rahimyar Khan in Punjab are located in Cholistan desert areas respectively with no irrigation water to cultivate land. Land cultivation depends on rains leaving the population vulnerable to frequent droughts and dependent on the nature.

In case of Thar, a major chunk of population often migrates to nearby irrigated areas on regular basis in search of livelihood. These poor migrant workers often take loans to meet their daily expenses and are unable to pay back the amount in a short time. In this way they are trapped in bondage, thus the amount of loan multiplies and they are never able to come back to their ancestral abodes.


Scheduled caste households are without entitlements of their homes where they live now. It is very important that they are given legal possessions and the pieces of land where they live should be considered as revenue land. Government should also ask the financial institutions like House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC) to provide interest free loans to scheduled castes people for building their homes.

The only asset these scheduled caste people have is livestock mainly cows. But in absence of rains, it becomes liability rather than an asset. In drought conditions, the animals die or become very weak, so they do not fetch any good rate in the market. Scheduled caste communities complain that in absence of any assets, they depend on debts for their survival and this way often land in bondage giving up their freedom and dignity. In bondage they are meted an inhuman treatment by the landlords and their staff.

It is also interesting to note that scheduled caste people even did not own the piece of land where they could have built huts or kucha houses. Scheduled castes villages and settlements, are without any official entitlements for centuries.

Lack of entitlements has emerged as a main issue faced by scheduled castes during discussion with ordinary souls of the community as well as community representatives. They believe that entitlements in the names of scheduled castes can be a single important step towards the uplifting of these marginalized sections of the society.This will provide them security as well as ownership of a very small but important asset.

3.2 Higher Proportion of Wage Labour

Due to lack of any sort of equity and land holding or business ventures, the scheduled castes depend on wages of labour for livelihood. Majority of them live in rural areas and work as agriculture workers, where as some of them work as daily wagers in nearby towns and cities.

Often they are compelled to do menial jobs not liked by Muslims and upper caste Hindus. Again there is no official document available, which can be used to determine the proportion of wage labourers among scheduled caste population; the survey conducted for the purpose of this study suggests prevalence of a high proportion of wage labour among scheduled castes.

According to our survey more than 48 percent of scheduled castes work as agriculture workers and daily wagers. This number is higher in Sindh as 50 percent respondents in Umerkot and Tharparkar reported working as labourers comparing to 43 percent in southern Punjab.

Of the total working population of scheduled caste, 11 percent work as domestic workers. The percentage of domestic workers is reported higher in district Tharparkar. Other jobs performed by scheduled castes include snake charming, shoemaking, tailoring, driving, cooking, sweeping and other manual jobs. All these jobs are very important but considered as low paid and are considered less respectable in the society.

It is obvious that these people are dependent on wage labour and in the case of agriculture workers they have to wait for crops for their share which is often less than what has been spent as input caste leave alone human labour.

Discrimination in wage earnings is quite obvious. The survey reveals that Dalit workers are paid 35% less than official minimum wage of Rs. 4,600.

3.3 Discrimination in wage earnings

As wage labourers, scheduled caste workers have to depend on meager earnings. The survey reveals that monthly income of 85 percent scheduled caste workers range between Rs. 500 to Rs. 3,000 per month, which even at maximum level of Rs. 3,000 is 35 % less than the official national minimum wage of a un- skilled worker

The income of 13 percent respondents ranged between Rs. 3,000 to 10,000 with only two percent reporting their monthly income more than Rs. 10,000.

As a consequence of low adult wages, incidences of child labour and bonded labour are higher among scheduled castes. It is believed that less wages are instrumental in keeping people in poverty. There is a direct link between poverty and lower wages.

Ironically even the official minimum wage of Rs. 4,600 is insufficient in a country where inflation rate is in double digit and a large number of 160 million Pakistanis is living below the poverty line. But in case of scheduled castes, they are even not paid this meager minimum wage as revealed in the survey conducted for the purpose of this report.

Scheduled caste workers pointed to widespread discrimination in wages as 58 percent of the total respondents say they get less wages than upper castes (both Muslim and Hindu) for the same type of work. This trend is more obvious in Sindh than in Southern Punjab as percentage of those complaining discrimination in wages is 71 percent in Sindh as compared to only 30 percent in Punjab.

3.4 Higher Incidence of Poverty

Poverty means multiple denials. It is not only denial of one’s access to financial resources; it is also denial of political, cultural, social, religious and economic rights. In the words of social scientists poverty reduces capabilities for human freedom. Pakistan has 40 million people living below the poverty line. Among them are marginalized groups such as women, so-called low castes, informal workers, bonded labourers and other minority and ethnic groups.

Poverty in Pakistan is not only feminized but caste and identity based also. The condition of women of scheduled caste is even worse. Poverty defined both in material and theoretical terms is relevant to scheduled castes, as they have been denied basic rights and human freedom as well as access to material and physical resources.

Poverty as defined in caloric terms is also wide spread in Pakistan. The percentage of Pakistani population living below the poverty line was 33 percent until late 2005 when the government made a hasty claim of reducing poverty by 10 percent, which was challenged by national as well as international donors and economic research institutions such as Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC).

If we follow government statistics about 40 million of Pakistanis live below the poverty line. Though this population is spread all over the country, poverty is more obvious in its naked shape in the districts with scheduled castes concentrated population.

Survey conducted for the purpose of this study also confirms prevalence of high incidences of poverty among scheduled castes, as they have poor housing facilities without proper toilets and other amenities, no health and schooling facilities. In addition, they are victims of discrimination in wages and earnings.

3.5 Low Literacy Rate

Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, as half of its population is illiterate. According to official statistics, literacy rate in Pakistan is just 52 percent that means only 80 million out of 140 million can read and write.

Again vulnerable and marginalized groups of the population such as women, children, religious minorities, low caste, bonded labourers make the majority of illiterate population within these districts.

There is nexus between poverty and illiteracy as people are illiterate because they are poor and they are poor because they are illiterate. Often one hears comments from the mouth of bonded labourers like “if we send a child to school then what should we eat.” That means they also depend on labour of their children to run the family budget. Moreover, women’s labour is also not considered as labour and they are paid less than the males.

In a country where a huge number of populations survives just on one dollar a day, many people depend on wages of the work performed by their children for family’s survival, this way even next generations are going to be illiterate.

Due to bad schooling in rural areas, Pakistan has one of the highest dropout ratio at primary as well as at secondary schools levels. Again, it is the child of marginalized groups who falls victims of drop out.

Though Pakistan’s overall social indicators are not quite impressive, the situation of Pakistani Dalits in education is even worst. They are at the bottom in education -- one of the very important social indicators.

Education system in the districts with Dalit concentration is very poor. All the four districts where field survey was conducted are at the lowest in the literacy rate. According to official statistics literacy ratio in Tharparkar is only 18 percent.

The survey reveals that two-third of the scheduled caste population in Southern Punjab and Sindh are illiterate. Statistics show that 74 percent scheduled castes in Umerkot, Tharparkar, Rahimyar Khan and Bahawalpur are virtually illiterate. Of the 26 percent who claimed to be literate 15 percent are just passed primary education, followed by only 4 percent with middle class education and another four percent are metric passed. It is irony to note that only one percent of the scheduled castes are graduates with only a few lucky ones having post-graduate degrees.

The literacy ratio among scheduled castes is almost the same regardless of their location as there is a slight difference in statistics coming from Sindh and Punjab. The percentage of metric and higher secondary pass is 5 and 2. 5 percent respectively in Sindh comparing to 2.2 and 0.5 percent in Southern Punjab.

Illiteracy among scheduled castes: an eye opener for Pakistan’s education managers

illeterate 74%

Post Graduate 0%

Graduate 1%

Higher Secondary 2%

Matric 4%

Middle 4%

Primary 15%

The survey also confirms the claims of scheduled caste communities and their representatives that they are at the bottom of all indicators of social development, and they are being discriminated in government’s development policies.

Again absence of any affirmative action and measure on part of the government to lift these communities from illiteracy is visible in these districts as there is no specific effort in place to provide education to scheduled castes in Pakistan. No serious effort has been made to provide education to children of scheduled caste people.

Ironically, the scheduled castes have also not got any place on the development agenda being pushed by international donor agencies. For example, the US government is supporting General Pervez Musharraf’s regime by pumping a huge amount through its development agency USAID.

A multi-million dollar special project for Education System Reforms Assistance (ESRA) is being implemented in Pakistan with USAID assistance, but this programme is also silent on how to uplift backward communities such as scheduled castes in education.

Low literacy rate among scheduled castes is quite understandable. It is not only that they cannot send their children to schools because they are poor or there are no schools in their areas but religious and caste biased factors at school and college levels discourages them to pursue their education. Scheduled caste students complain discriminatory attitude on the part of both teachers and students, which put a psychological barrier in their education. In addition, curriculum is also biased and do not reflect their religious beliefs.

Any sincere effort on part of government to uplift these communities would have education on priority. This single act will have long lasting effect on the lives of scheduled castes who have been victims of injustice during the past generations.

3.6 Poor Health

Health is another important social indicator, which shows the level of development of any nation or group of population. ‘Health is wealth’ is a proverb used throughout the world.

Health conditions in scheduled castes communities are very poor as frequent illness is reported among the scheduled castes households. Since they live in localities with no sewerage and hygienic facilities due to negligence of authorities, they are more vulnerable to diseases and often suffer deadly diseases like tuberculosis and Hepatitis-B and C.

Lack of proper food results in malnutrition, put bad effects on the health of children and women in particular. The survey reveals that there is hardly any government health facility available in scheduled caste villages. If they dare to travel to major cities for treatment they face a lot of discrimination and are not treated equally.

Scheduled castes recall many incidences where nurses or doctors refused to touch their body parts saying it will pollute them or they are dirty and filthy scheduled castes. A scheduled caste youth complained that a nurse refused to treat his sister when he took her to hospital after severe pain in her teeth. “She (nurse) said that she won’t like to pollute her instruments by using on a scheduled caste.”

There are no specific statistics available on health indicator of scheduled castes in particular, however, the observation and eyewitness narratives of field researchers depict a gloomy picture of health conditions among scheduled castes.

Men are too weaker and fragile in physique as they do hard labour on very ordinary food. Women face multiple health problems due to extreme poverty, double workload as they have to work in fields as well as to take care of households chores and kids; lack of knowledge on health issues. Pregnancy related deaths are frequent among scheduled caste women. Infant mortality rate is very high among scheduled castes.

3.7 Housing

Pakistan is one of the least developed countries as far as housing is concerned. In development Index, it stands at the bottom 96 th among 120 countries. All social and development indicators depict poor social services and civic facilities available to majority of citizens.

Housing is one of the major basic needs of human life. Unfortunately, majority of population have no or poor housing facilities both in urban and rural areas. In rural areas, most of people live in.


Majority of scheduled castes living both in Sindh and Punjab are rural landless peasants. The government should distribute state owned land among these families particularly in Thar and Cholistan desert areas. The land should be prepared for cultivation and state must provide input for cultivation at least for five crops and arrangements should be made to provide irrigation water at these lands.

mud made katcha houses without any facility. In urban areas a huge population now resides in slums of Katchi Abadis, which are short of basic facilities. Though housing is a major problem of Pakistan, the housing conditions of excluded groups such as scheduled castes are very poor. They do not own their houses and they live on work place and when the job is finished they are dislocated.

Again there are no segregated data available regarding housing conditions of scheduled castes, the survey conducted for the purpose of this study reveal that they live in pathetic conditions. There is hardly any basic infrastructure such as water supply or sanitation available in scheduled castes villages. In many areas they are without electricity. The houses are katcha without any toilet or sewerage facilities. Even potable drinking water is not available in the settlements of scheduled caste.

Yoginder Sikand


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