Christmas may come, Christmas may go; but the conditions of Christians in Pakistan remain as they have been – in pitiable situations and grossly discriminated against.
New Delhi: "….up the class ladder, Christians find work in hospitals as nurses and janitors — the 'cleaning' motif dominates here too. There are certainly Pakistani Christians involved in other occupations, but the point should be clear; they are hugely over-represented in the 'sweeper' profession," says a piece in Pakistan's English daily 'Dawn'.
The article by a teacher of Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, says, "Indeed, Christians in this country usually make their way into the public consciousness when they are victims of lynch mobs or young girls from the community are forcibly converted and married off to Muslim men." However, the article says the discrimination has "little to do with the Christian faith."
"It has to do with caste, one of the great unspoken facts of Pakistani society. One often hears the refrain that there is no such thing as caste in Pakistan, because caste is associated with Hindu social structures and Muslims don't 'do' caste. The rhetoric is completely out of touch with reality."
"Caste is a feature of all South Asian societies, irrespective of whether Hindus, Muslims …," the write up says.
Like other religious minorities, Hindus and Sikhs, Christians too have been demanding some 'regulations' for conversion to Islam in Pakistan. However, in September this year, Pakistan's Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony rejected a bill that proposed age bar/regulations on conversions to Islam.
"Clauses related to the 18-year age bar on religion conversion, appearance before a judge, and a 90-day waiting period in the proposed bill are anti-Sharia, illegal and in violation of the fundamental constitutional rights," Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noor ul Haq Qadri has said in his statement.
Christian activists in Pakistan focused on forced conversion on Aug. 11, National Minorities Day. The Lahore-based Centre for Social Justice screened a documentary called Humsaya (Neighbor) on the issue of forced conversion. The short film depicted factual stories of minor girls who had been abducted and forced to change their religion said Catholics-backed UCA News.
In his piece for 'Dawn', Akhtar further says, "….why do so many mansion owners who employ low-caste Pakistanis in their home for a pittance refuse to shake their hands or share utensils? Because they subscribe, consciously or otherwise, to the principle of untouchability". Christianity is the third largest religion in Pakistan. According to the 2017 Census, the proportion of Christians in Pakistan was estimated as about only 1.27 per cent of the population.