KARACHI - Social movements, NGOs, labour and other civil society organisations on Sunday demanded the government to restore 6 percent quota in jobs and admissions in higher education institutions for scheduled caste minorities. It was earlier fixed under an Ordinance of 1956, but abolished in 1998. This resolutions was unanimously passed at the conclusion of the one-day consultation on Issues of Dalits and Strategies for Solution jointly organised by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and Thardeep Rural Development Programme (TRDP) at PILER centre here. On the occasion, Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN) was formally launched to fight back caste and descent based discrimination in the society. This 11-member committee will particularly focus on the protection and promotion of the rights of scheduled caste Hindus and other marginalized sections of the society. The Steering Committee of the Network would comprise of Ms Pushpa Kumari, Advocate Arjundas, Advocate Bhoromal, Pirbhulal, Ms Tahira Ali, Advocate Noornaz Agha, Mirza Maqsood, Moazam Ali, Zain Daudpoto, Rameshjaipal and Ms Aquila Naz. The Advisory Committee included Karamat Ali, Dr. Sono Khanghrani, Krishanchand, Gianchand, Kathumal, Peter Jacob, Iqbal Detho, Harris Khalique and Zulfiqar Shah (SAP). Mr. Malji Rathore of TRDP will serve as the convener of the network with Zulfiqar Shah of PILER as secretary. The Secretariat of the network will be based at PILER. The participants of the meeting included Dalit organizations, human rights organizations, peasants movements, fishermen organizations, trade unions, NGOs and individuals from academia and media. The consultation participants were of the view that discrimination on the basis of caste, occupation and status exists in the society. Muslims, Christians, Hindus and people belonging to other religions equally fall victim to these discriminatory practices. However, the situation of the scheduled caste Hindus such as Kolhi, Bheel, Menghwar, Oad, Bagri and Bakmaki is the worst as they are facing social bashing in their respective areas. The consultation participants regretted that the attitude of the state of Pakistan towards scheduled caste Hindus had long been a case of double standard and denial. Ms. Noor Naz Agha, a leading lawyer and human rights activist stated that the scheduled community was terrified by influential groups of the society. Zulfiqar Shah said that the socio economic indicators of scheduled castes population in Pakistan were very low and situation was tremendously alarming. More than 90% scheduled caste population live below the poverty line; illiteracy ratio of Dalist is as high as 74% and 83% scheduled caste Hindus both in Sindh and Punjab are landless. Nominal wages and lower social status makes them vulnerable to bondage. Dr. Sono Khanghrani, a renowned activist and CEO of TRDP said that concerns on the status of Dalits particularly of scheduled castes were being expressed at international level as well. He informed the consultation that the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) had asked the government of Pakistan to adopt a comprehensive law to end all forms of discrimination during its concluding remarks on 19th and 20th February 2009 in Geneva. Karamat Ali, a veteran trade union activist and Executive Director of PILER pointed the lack of political representation of scheduled castes and marginalized sections of the society at decision-making levels. Current legislative bodies did not represent Pakistani society, he added. The consultation also passed a resolution condemning human rights violation and asked the government to include of caste in census forms, land distribution among scheduled castes, representation of scheduled castes in legislative and other state bodies, special job quota and scholarships.