According to the National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR), the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Pakistan rejected a female candidate for the position of Hajj Director General. An applicant with the highest score with 71 marks for the Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service, Saima Sabah, was allegedly denied the position on account of her gender.
According to the NCHR, women are not excluded from the eligibility criteria for the role, and women have served as Hajj Director General in Saudi Arabia in the past. It was in December that Ms. Sabah filed a complaint with the Islamabad High Court alleging that she had been rejected because of her gender and that Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Minister Mufti Abdul Shakoor had made discriminatory remarks during the interview process. On social media, a man believed to be Shakoor has been heard questioning the candidate’s decision not to wear a hijab during the interview.
In response to allegations of gender discrimination, Minister Shakoor claims the audio clip was edited. In his statement, he indicated that he would accept the decision of the court and asked for a prompt decision.
According to the NCHR, it is questionable why Saudi Arabia is encouraging women to manage Hajj pilgrims, while the best qualified candidate is being restricted based on her gender. Despite Saudi government efforts, the country’s religious affairs ministry allegedly rejected qualified candidates based on gender.