08/23/2022 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – A recent article brought attention to the fact that 90% of Islamabad’s street cleaners are Christian. These workers receive little to no salary, often waiting between weeks and months for a paycheck. Christians and other religious minorities are exclusively targeted for positions like these in Pakistan. In fact, when recruiting for these types of positions, many employers will list in a job positing that the positions are for ‘non-Muslims only,’ as the jobs are considered to be below the stature of a Muslim to perform.
Furthermore, Christians are often required to work in dangerous conditions without proper safety mechanisms or equipment. One example comes from Pakistan’s sewage workers, an industry heavily comprised of Christian workers who are required to go deep into the ground and unclog the sewer system without the necessary equipment. As a result, the deadly gasses formed in the sewers often kill workers. The Pakistani government will usually settle with the worker’s family, but only at a very modest financial settlement that barely covers funeral costs.
Matias Perttula, Director of Advocacy at International Christian Concern, said, “Christians and religious minorities in Pakistan live in reality marked by constant fear, abuse, discrimination, and bigotry from the majority Muslim community. Christian sanitation workers are often cheated out of their pay, if they are even paid, and face discriminatory employment practices throughout the industry. They’re forced to use different drinking fountains from Muslims, among other bigoted actions.”
The religious bigotry embedded in both Pakistan’s government and civil society manifests throughout the social fabric in various forms. Another example of Pakistan’s poor treatment of Christians and other religious minorities is the country’s notorious blasphemy law. Christians are living under a constant state of fear, as the law carries, at its most extreme, a mandatory death penalty or life in prison. Even a mere accusation of blasphemy from a Muslim against a Christian has encouraged mob violence, resulting in the public lynching of the accused.
Pakistan has much progress to make in order to achieve a more harmonious religious society with equal treatment of all religious minorities. Despite what the government of Pakistan might say publicly, the reality of life for religious minorities is contrary to the picture of ‘religious harmony’ depicted by the government of Pakistan.
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