ASIA/PAKISTAN - Pakistani Christians discriminated and persecuted find asylum in India

Goa (Agenzia Fides) – Pakistani Christians, victims of violence, discrimination and persecution, are welcomed and may extend asylum in India and get Indian citizenship: is what the Indian Ministry of the Interior has decided, including the faithful of Christian and Buddhist religion in the list of religious minorities in Pakistan who will be granted a long-term residence visa (up to 7 years), so far limited only to Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs. As reported to Fides by local sources, the decision came following a request to the Federal Minister of India from Goa: the local authorities had reported the situation of some Christians, originally from Goa but of Pakistani nationality who from Pakistan wanted to return to their homeland. Prior to 1961, in fact, many citizens of Goa went to Karachi for business and, though born in India, acquired Pakistani citizenship. The Indian Ministry of the Interior - recognizing the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan - has accepted the application, issuing a general measure, notwithstanding the agreements between India and Pakistan, which provide for the Pakistani citizens the issuance of short-term visas. The news was welcomed by the Christian community in Pakistan (which account for 2% of the population) and also by the Indian Church, ready to make its contribution for the welcoming and reintegration of Pakistani Christians in the Indian social fabric. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 31/08/2011)

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