The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns the Imran Khan government for denying food to Pakistani Hindus, Christians amid COVID-19 spread. USCIRF said it is ‘troubled’ by the reports of food being denied to the minority communities.
“These actions are simply reprehensible,” said Anurima Bhargava, Commissioner. “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.”
In Karachi, there have been reports that the Saylani Welfare International Trust, a non-government organisation established to assist the homeless and seasonal workers, has been refusing food assistance to Hindus and Christians, arguing that the aid is reserved for Muslims alone.
USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore said: Prime Minister Khan’s government has the opportunity to lead the way but they must not leave religious minorities behind. Otherwise, they may add on top of it all one more crisis, created by religious discrimination and inter-communal strife.
In its 2019 Annual Report, the USCIRF noted that Hindus and Christians in Pakistan face continued threats to their security and are subject to various forms of harassment and social exclusion.
Following the reports about Hindus and Christians in some parts of Karachi being denied food aid, other NGOs such as the Edhi Foundation and JDC Welfare Organisation had delivered rations to members of the two minority communities.
The Jamaat-e-Islami carried out disinfection spraying in temples and churches in Korangi and Clifton areas of Karachi and distributed cooked food and rations among Hindu and Christian families. Karachi is home to a substantial number of Hindus and Christians. A majority of Pakistan’s Hindu minority live in Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital.
The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan US federal government entity that monitors and reports on threats to religious freedom across the globe.