US Body On Religious Freedom Calls Out Pakistan For Denial Of Food To Hindus, Christians Amid Covid-19 Outbreak

by Swarajya Staff - Apr 14, 2020 04:53 PM +05:30 IST
US Body On Religious Freedom Calls Out Pakistan For Denial Of Food To Hindus, Christians Amid Covid-19 OutbreakPakistani PM Imran Khan (Representative Image) (pic via Twitter)
Snapshot
  • Saylani Welfare International Trust, an NGO established to aid homeless and seasonal workers in Pakistan, refused food aid to Hindus and Christians, arguing the ‘aid is reserved for Muslims alone’.

Pakistan and its Prime Minister Imran Khan have found mention by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for the ill-treatment of Hindus and Christians amid the Covid - 19 outbreak in the country.

According to this report, the US panel has expressed its concerns over reports of Hindus and Christians in Pakistan being denied food and aid in the Covid19 crises.

There are several reports in the media that point at Hindus and Christians in parts of Karachi being denied relief material by an NGO. The NGO — Saylani Welfare International Trust — distributed relief material last week.

A report on the Republic website says that USCIRF has shed light on the ‘food aid being denied to the minority Hindus and Christians in Pakistan’.

USCIRF is a US federal government entity, which monitors and reports on threats to religious freedom.

The HT report points out that, USCIRF, in its 2019 annual report, had said that Hindus and Christians in Pakistan “face continued threats to their security and are subject to various forms of harassment and social exclusion”.

A statement from the panels said: “The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is troubled by the reports of food aid being denied to Hindus and Christians amid the spread in Pakistan. USCIRF commissioner Anurima Bhargava stated that these  actions are simply reprehensible.”

The panel has said that as Covid-19 continues to spread, the vulnerable communities are fighting hunger.

It has urged the Pakistani government to ensure that relief material is distributed equally to minorities without prejudice.

The HT report says: The USCIRF pointed to the reports that Saylani Welfare International Trust, an NGO established to aid homeless and seasonal workers, had refused food aid to Hindus and Christians, arguing the “aid is reserved for Muslims alone”.

USCIRF commissioner, Johnnie Moore, said that in a recent address, Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted that his 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.’

Moore also pointed to Khan's address to the international community, where the latter spoke on the governments in the developing world ‘facing the challenge of saving people from dying of hunger, while also trying to halt the spread of COVID-19’.

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