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Flood In Pakistan: Religious Minorities Face Discrimination

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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

Editor
Minorities Concern of Pakistan

Sept. 4, 20010

Aftab Alexander Mughal is a Pakistani journalist and a human rights activist. He is the editor of Minorities Concern of Pakistan, an e-magazine, while he also heads the Asia desk of Spero News .

For 14 years, he served the “Minority Rights Commission of Pakistan” and “Justice and Peace Commission of Pakistan” as National Director for Research and Publications and an Executive Secretary. From 1985 to 1992, he worked as Youth Director of Catholic Diocese of Multan, Pakistan.

Born in 1956 in Muzaffargarh, Southern Punjab of Pakistan, Mughal has worked with many national and international civil society organizations. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science. He has widely travelled and represented Pakistan at regional and international conferences.

He has been awarded the “International Award for Excellence in Journalism 2010” by the Union of Catholic International Press (UCIP) whose international office is in Geneva, Switzerland. The award was made at the World Congress, which was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 12 -19, 2010. This is Mughal’s second award from UCIP. His first one being the “Media in Your Country Award” which he received on the October 20, 1989 in Ruhpolding Germany.

Mughal started his career as a journalist in 1979 and edited the monthly magazines “Nishan-e-Rah” and “Mashal.” until 1985. Since then he worked as a freelance journalist. His main area of interest is human rights, peace and religious freedom in Pakistan.

He also has been contributing to national and international magazines, newspapers and various news agencies and has several books to his credit on minority rights issues including, “Death or Exile” and “From the Ashes of Shantinagar.” Moreover, he is also a co-author of “Section 295 C, Pakistan Penal Code – Study of the History, Effects and Cases under Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan.”

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