Each one – Teach one

By – Shamim Masih

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan came into being in 1947 under the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Jinnah had repeatedly promised equality of citizenship, but this promise was not kept by his successors. Pakistan became an Islamic Republic in 1956, making Islam the source of legislation and cornerstone of the national identity, while guaranteeing freedom of religion and equal citizenship to all citizens. With the governments of Z. A. Bhutto and Zia-ul-Haq more inflexibly Islamic laws transformed Pakistan.

During the regime of these two rulers, Christians of the country were divergent. This is evidenced in cities established by the British, such as the port city of Karachi, where the majestic St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Pakistan’s largest church, stands, and the churches in the city of Rawalpindi, where the British established a major military cantonment. European and wealthy native Christians established colleges, churches, hospitals and schools in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. Roman Catholics and other protestant denominations have organized themselves throughout the country. Politically, groups like the Pakistan Christian Congress – PCC have arisen. Christians had second largest educational and health chain in the country. The civil dictator Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had been engaged in re-action and nationalized Christian’s health and educational institutions.

Constitutional Discrimination:

Z. A. Bhutto introduced discriminatory laws against religious minorities. He declared Ahamdis as non-Muslims, thus it opens new doors to constitutional discrimination. Non – Muslims are barred from becoming the President or Prime Minister. Furthermore, they are barred from being judges in the Federal Shariat Court, which has the power to strike down any law deemed un-Islamic. Chief justice of the Supreme Court, chief of Army Staff and chief minister and governorship is not mentioned in the constitution but it is unseen restriction. Several hundred Christians along with Muslims themselves have been persecuted under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and death sentences have been handed out to at least a dozen. Force conversion is on; while conversion to other faiths than Islam is not prohibited by law. Blasphemy law is widely used for vested interested. Misuse of blasphemy laws become practice. Churches and Christian’s colonies are attacked and set ablaze. Thus Pakistan becomes a state of perpetual fear for minorities.

Division among Christians created:

With the start of new era, President (ex) Parvez Musharaf introduced new electoral system for minorities. This opens new doors to corruption; affluent members from the minorities become parliamentarians. Minorities are divided into two groups, some are in favor of the present electoral system, and others are struggling to restore the democratic electoral system for minorities. Muslim political parties have introduced “Minorities Wings” and thus they have created division. The selected segment follows the same agenda of their mother party. This clearly means they are not representing their community but their lords.

Flimsy Dwellers:

Most of the Christians in the country are living below poverty line. Mostly live in slums, known as “katchi abadis” and often euphemistically called “colonies” are tucked into the corners of the big cities’ neat grid pattern. They house tens of thousands of people unable to afford the city’s high rents, in flimsy dwellings put up with concrete, bricks and sacking. Some are located on drainage cuts designed to channel away the heavy rains of the monsoon, and many have no access to electricity, gas or main water supplies. These poor people can afford tuition fees, so their children remain uneducated. Ironically Christian institutions instead paying attention towards deserving students, they expel them from their institutions. According to the data given by social activist, in Rawalpindi district only more than 30 students were expelled this year due to non-payment of the tuition fee. Still Christian organization claim that they are serving poor Christians. Sources said that some Korean organization was interested to establish an institution to educate Christian students, but due to the self-centeredness of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance–APMA’s leadership, they rolled back their plan. This attitude shows their commitment towards Christian betterment. It is observed during the last decade that every third self proclaimed chairman with some financial background has started “face book” political party. Honestly speaking, if they contribute in community development instead self projection.

Recommendations:

Since Christians are being persecuted under the severe condition, all prominent Christian leadership should stand shoulder to shoulder to each other. Each and every in charge of these parties should take responsibility to teach at least one Christian student for better future generation. Educational institutions with religious back ground should take in deserving student. There are some individuals and organizations are doing do well. But if the available resources are divided and destroyed into non-productive business, the result would be same.

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