A US commission on international religious freedom on Monday (April 13) said it is troubled by the reports of food being denied to the Hindu and Christian minority communities in Pakistan amidst the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioner Anurima Bhargava said “these actions are simply reprehensible”.
“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 ones faith. We urge the Pakistani government to ensure that food aid from distributing organizations is shared equally with Hindus, Christians, and other religions minorities,” Bhargava said.
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, “In a recent address by Prime Minister (Imran) Khan to the international community, he highlighted that the challenge facing governments in the developing world is to save people from dying of hunger while also trying to halt the spread of COVID-19. This is a monumental task laying before many countries. Prime Minister Khans 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.