ASIA/PAKISTAN - Minorities are being targeted: the study and testimony of Pakistanis abroad

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

London (Agenzia Fides) - Minorities in Pakistan, whether they are ethnic, religious or political, are victims of hatred, discrimination, prejudices that make their life a living hell: this is what was expressed in a new study commissioned and published by the "British Pakistani Christian Association" (BPCA), which gathers the Pakistani emigrants in the United Kingdom, Europe and other countries in the world. The text sent to Fides Agency, titled "The Targeting of 'Minority Others' in Pakistan", presents an analysis of the policies implemented in the country in recent decades and contains numerous testimonies as proof of the arguments expressed.
"Many of the state and non-state decisions and activities have facilitated actions that aim to target minorities like Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus, Baluchi, Hazara Shiite, Sikhs and many others", notes the study, citing, in particular, the "blasphemy law " as one of the main instruments of abuse: it is often used as a "trap" for Christians and Hindus.
The authors of the study - Desmond Fernandes, a specialist on the educational system in Pakistan and Nathaniel Lewis, a researcher of the BPCA - cite the numerous interventions of UN bodies such as the Council for Human Rights.
Among the testimonies cited there is that of the young Christian Samson Barkat from Karachi, the only Christian to have passed the entrance test among the Police cadets. Some Muslim cadets, his companions, began to provoke him, because of jealousy, in order to force him to resign.
In January 2014 while Samson was listening to Christian religious songs in his car, he was approached by some cadets who started beating him. One of them pulled out a few pages of the Koran from his pocket, tore the pages and then started accusing him of blasphemy.
Examples of abuse against minorities are frequent cases of rapes regarding Christian and Hindu girls and forced Islamic marriage: the latter cases are those of Komal Yousaf, a Christian 15 –year-old raped, forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim, and that of a 19-year-old Christian Sobia, from Lahore, who was kidnapped and forced to Islamic marriage with a wealthy Muslim, in whose house she was working as a waitress. The two were rescued by the NGO "World Vision in Progress" (WVIP). "Muslims in Pakistan believe they can use young Christian girls who belong to religious minorities as their consumer goods", said the leader of WVIP, Farroukh Saif. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/04/2014)