04/03/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Christian leaders in Pakistan are reporting another incident in which Christians were denied government food aid amid the COVID-19 crisis. This marks the second report of government aid being denied to minorities in Pakistan due to their religious identity.
“A few days back there was an announcement made through a mosque’s loudspeaker in the Sher-Shah neighborhood of Lahore inviting citizens to collect the government’s announced foodstuffs,” a local pastor, who wished to remain unnamed, from Lahore told International Christian Concern (ICC). “When Christians reached the distribution point and presented their national identity cards, they were asked by staffers to get out of the line claiming the foodstuff was only for Muslim citizens.”
Among the Christians denied aid in Sher-Shah was Rachel Bibi, age 50. Speaking to ICC, Bibi said, “Christians often face religious hatred and discrimination. However, we never thought of this biased behavior by the majority people at this critical time of COVID-19. The authorities must take action against those involved.”
According to the local pastor, he received multiple telephone calls a day from members of his congregation reporting similar denials of aid. The pastor went on to ask the international community to step in and extend aid to the minority communities of Pakistan.
Since March 21, most of Pakistan has been placed on lockdown as authorities seek to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, this national lockdown has significantly affected the country’s poor and vulnerable communities. This includes Pakistan’s religious minorities.
Approximately 45% of Pakistan’s total population live below the poverty line, earning most of their income through daily labor jobs. The national lockdown has cut off many of these laborers from earning daily wages and reports of starvation are already circulating.
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