Flood In Pakistan: Religious Minorities Face Discrimination
By Aftab Alexander Mughal
At least 20 million people have been affected by the worst flood in Pakistan during the month of August because of heavy monsoon rains. More than 2,000 people have died and as many as 600,000 people remain completely cut off from outside help as relief efforts are hampered by bad weather, destroyed infrastructure and lack of required helicopters. An immense proportion of food crops and agricultural land is still under water. About 22% of the economy is dependent on agriculture and two-thirds of the 180 million people are in agriculture related work. About 6000 schools have been destroyed. More than 6 million children are now at risk of waterborne diseases.
A senior Pakistani journalist said that Pakistan needs at least $5 billion for relief work, reconstruction and rehabilitation activities. Despite Pakistan’s continues appeals the international community is slow to respond to this human tragedy. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said that the country’s resources could not cope with the losses. Pope Benedict XVI urged the international community to offer “concrete support” to flood-ravaged Pakistan.
Christian, Hindu and Sikh individuals and their religious and social organizations were quick to help flood-effected people without any religious discrimination.
Along with millions of Muslim people, about 0.6 million Hindus and Christians in Sindh, 0.2 million Christians in Punjab and thousands of Christians, Hindus and Sikh in Khyber Pukhtunkhah province were forced to leave their home because of deluge. It is awful that flood-hit people of religious minority communities including Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis are doubly affected by the disaster as a result of anti-minority discrimination by government relief workers and some aid agencies. Minorities Concern of Pakistan learnt that at some places in Sindh and Punjab, Hindus and Christians held protest rallies to condemn the religious bias. In interior Sindh, Hindus were also attacked and looted. Speaking at the media at the Karachi Press Club Patron of Pakistan Hindu Council Ramesh Kumar appealed to the government to move in the Army in the affected areas including Ghospur, Kandkhot and Karmpur. Christians and Ahmadis also had the same experience at some relief centers. In DG Khan, Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur districts (Southern Punjab), the government workers and local clerics refused to shelter around 500 flood-affected families of Ahmadiya community. According to a Vatican missionary body, Christian refugees are “purposely not identified and registered”. A Christian village of Khokharabad in Southen Punjab suffered damages from deliberately diverted water, causing loss of human life, homes, and crops. Economic analysts estimate that it would take at least 5 to 10 years to rebuild the whole infrastructure in Pakistan and the rehabilitation process of effected people. ###
Aftab Alexander Mughal
Minorities Concern of Pakistan
Sept. 4, 20010