ASIA/PAKISTAN - National Census: an opportunity for the future of religious minorities

Saturday, 18 February 2017 christianity   religious minorities   politics   civil society   local churches   pastoral   development  

Karachi (Agenzia Fides) – The pastoral workers of Christian churches will be crucial to promote awareness on the importance of the census which will begin in Pakistan in March. "It is necessary to take a step forward to unite all the baptized, without distinction of confession, involving every pastoral worker, from the Bishops, to priests and catechists, in order to have the correct numbers on our Christian communities", said to Agenzia Fides Archbishop Joseph Coutts, at the head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi.
In recent days, the Catholic Church gathered its pastoral worker together with those of the Anglican Church of Pakistan, Karachi led by Bishop Sadiq Daniel. They all agreed that the "2017 Census is very important for the Christian community, not only for our development, but also for our rights". Both churches have decided to launch a public awareness campaign that will start from the Sunday liturgical celebrations and will extend to all ecclesial meetings.
Anthony Naveed, special assistant for interreligious harmony to the Minister of Sindh province, will carry out seminars to inform and educate all pastoral workers on the procedures to actively participate in the 2017 census. Naveed started to explain some of the procedures to the participants asking Christian families to prepare the necessary documents to answer the census. "It will be an important moment for us Christians: we can be recognized for our real numbers. This census will determine our future", he said.
Some have in fact mentioned the issue of political representation of minorities. Zahid Farooq, a Christian social worker, said: "In the first national assembly at the time of the founding of Pakistan, there were 145 seats including 10 reserved for minorities; now there are 342 seats, but the seats for minorities have not changed and are still 10".
In December 2016, Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered the government of Pakistan to hold the sixth census in the country in March 2017. The operation will take place in two phases: the first from 15 March to 14 April, the second from April 25 to 24 May.
The fifth census was held in 1998, then in 2008. According to data - ten years ago – figures to be updated - religious minorities in Pakistan was 2.8% of the population, including Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jews and other groups. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 18/02/2017)