Christians and minorities confront discrimination in flood-ravaged Pakistan
The plight of Christian victims of flooding in Pakistan is compounded by the discrimination they face.
10/04/2010 Pakistan (enerpub)-At least 20 million people have been affected during the month of August by the worst flood in Pakistan’s recent history due to heavy monsoon rains. More than 2,000 people have died and as many as 600,000 people remain completely cut off from outside help as relief efforts are hampered by bad weather, destroyed infrastructure, and the scarcity of helicopters. An immense proportion of food crops and agricultural land is still under water. About 22 percent of the economy is dependent on agriculture and two-thirds of the 180 million people are in agriculture related work. About 6000 schools have been destroyed. More than 6 million children are now at risk of waterborne diseases?.
Christian, Hindu and Sikh individuals and their religious and social organizations were quick to help flood-effected people without any religious discrimination. Along with millions of Muslim people, about 600,000 Hindus and Christians in living in the Sindh region, and over 200,000 more Christians in the Punjab and thousands more Christians, Hindus and Sikhs in Khyber Pukhtunkhah province were forced to leave their homes because of the deluge. Critics in the country have denounced that religious minorities, including Christians, Hindus, and Ahmadi Muslims are now doubly effected by the disaster since they have been subjected to unfair and inhumane treatment by relief workers of the Pakistani government and some relief agencies.
Minorities Concern of Pakistan learnt that at some places in Sindh and Punjab, Hindus and Christians have held protest rallies to condemn religious bias in the distribution of relief. In the Sindh province, Hindus were attacked and robbed. Speaking to the media in Karachi was Ramesh Kumar of the Hindu Council who appealed to the government to mobilize the Army in the affected areas including Ghospur, Kandkhot and Karmpur. Christians and Ahmadis have also had the same experience at some relief centers. In DG Khan, Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur districts (Southern Punjab), government workers and local Muslim clerics refused to shelter around 500 flood-affected families of the Ahmadi Muslim community. Ahmadi Muslims are considered by many Muslims as heretics and accorded much the same treatment as Christians and Hindus.
According to a Catholic missionary body, Christian refugees are “purposely not identified and registered.” A Christian village of Khokharabad in Southern Punjab suffered damages from deliberately diverted water, causing loss of human life, homes, and crops. Economic analysts estimate that it will take at least 5 to 10 years to rebuild the infrastructure in Pakistan and contribute to the rehabilitation process of all those affected.