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Easter power cuts and Pakistani Christians

By Dan Wooding and Sheraz Khurram Khan
04/13/09 PAKISTAN (ANS) — The Christians of Pakistan celebrated Easter amid power cuts that have become the norm since the country started facing an energy crisis.

The authorities concerned do not ensure continued supply of electricity to Pakistani Christians on their religious festivals even though Power cuts are brought to a minimum during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Suspension of power during Eid-ul-Fitr (a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting ) and Eid-ul-Azha (a festival in honor of the sacrifice of Prophet Abraham in which animals are sacrificed and the meat is distributed to the poor or less fortunate who can’t afford to eat well or sacrifice animals) are next to impossible.

It is taken for granted that the Water and Power and Development Authority (WAPDA) would ensure uninterrupted flow of electricity during the two Eids, each of which lasts for three days.

Wouldn’t it have been good if the authority had ensured an unceasing power supply on Easter Day? Absence of power outages on Easter would have been highly appreciated by the Christians of Pakistan. This single act of kindness by the authority might have made them forget injustice, oppression, victimization and the effects of ongoing Talibanization for a while.

We doubt if the situation next Christmas or Easter would be any different if the power crisis lingers on until then. It is lack of will on the part of the concerned authority that gives Christians unwelcome and prolonged power cuts even during their religious festivals. We wonder why it is not seen as an act of injustice by the people in charge of these matters.

Easter has passed and nobody took any action against the situation.

As if oblivious to the Easter power cuts, the Pakistani media did not take any notice of it at all. No Pakistani human rights activist made any statement condemning nasty power cuts at Easter.

However, we believe they would have even led protest demonstrations if anything like this had happened at Muslim Eid.

Power cuts at a Muslim religious festival could even have made some heads roll. Forget about any of these things ever happening over any kind of injustice against Pakistani Christians. After all why was it so important for Christians to have uninterrupted electricity on Easter? They did not have to iron very expensive dresses, so they could even be worn without ironing. If an Easter mass went without power, so what? Christians already know that Christ was raised from dead on the third day. They do not need to hear this and the entire sermon of the priest or pastor on Easter Sunday. Again it was not that necessary for the Christians to have electricity during Easter parties.

Their parties pale into insignificance as compared to the ones Muslims host on the Eid-ul-Fitr or Eid-ul-Azha. Therefore, why should they need electricity without interruption on Easter? Poverty-stricken Christian children who do not even get chicken-laid eggs to eat at Easter did not have to eat chocolate Easter eggs, so it was again considered ok for Christians to experience power suspension on Easter by the authorities.

The presence of power on Easter Sunday would not have solved a myriad of their problems; it would not feed Christians living in abysmal conditions. It would not make the Taliban any more lenient. It would not stop the abduction and rape of minority women. It would not halt social and constitutional discrimination. It would not stop fundamentalist Muslims from implicating the Christians in blasphemy cases. It would not do any of these things but it would still give Pakistani Christians a sense of equality that is sorely lacking.

Poverty does not bother Christians as much as deepening sense of inequality. Millions of Pakistani Muslims suffer at the hands of poverty too, but they only have to fight poverty. Being a Christian in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan means that you have to battle other menaces including religious intolerance, discrimination, oppression, intimidation, constitutional discrimination, verbal and physical assaults, abductions and rapes.

Imagine how the powerless would have enjoyed being “powerful” even though for a single day if they had had power without interruption at the Easter resurrection celebrations.