CNA Staff, Apr 15, 2020 / 14:30 pm
The U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom has called on the Pakistani government to ensure aid for the COVID-19 pandemic is being justly distributed to religious minorities, after receiving reports that aid organizations were barring Christians and Hindus from receiving food assistance.
"These actions are simply reprehensible," USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava said in an April 13 statement. "As COVID-19 continues to spread, vulnerable communities within Pakistan are fighting hunger and to keep their families safe and healthy. Food aid must not be denied because of one's faith. We urge the Pakistani government to ensure that food aid from distributing organizations is shared equally with Hindus, Christians, and other religions minorities," she said.
According to the commission, recent reports have shown that in Karachi a non-government aid organization, the Saylani Welfare International Trust, has been denying food assistance to Christians and Hindus, telling them that the aid was reserved for Muslims. Pakistan's state religion is Islam, and around 97 percent of the population is Muslim.
The authorities of Pakistan have consistently failed to implement safeguards on behalf of religious minorities, despite numerous policies in favor of economic and physical protections for members of non-Muslim religions.
For example, the country has promised to provide quotas for employment to ensure that religious minorities are granted equal access to jobs, but so far it has not done so.