Pakistan Flood Aid Used to Persecute Minorities and Force Conversions
Dear Friends and Partners,
You have heard much in the news over the last two months about the Pakistani flood and its impact on the people of Pakistan. Millions have seen their homes and livelihoods destroyed and are faced with the threat of infectious diseases in relief camps and affected areas. Our governments have provided official aid and Canadians and Americans have opened their hearts to donate generously through various humanitarian organizations to assist the victims of the flood. What you have not heard about are the silent victims of this disaster – those whose lives were shattered by the natural disaster and who have since been denied assistance in a man-made disaster-in-the-making.
It has come to OFWI’s attention through our sources in Pakistan that in some hard-hit areas, including parts of the Swat Valley and Sindh province, minorities such as Christians, Hindus, and Ahmadiyya Muslims have been refused aid because of their religion. Rescuers passed over minorities leaving them to fend for themselves, while local workers and government officials distributing international aid have denied aid to religious minorities or turned them away at some relief camps. Some have been told to convert to Islam to access aid while others have chosen to lie and claim they are Muslim.
The experience of one Hindu community of 19 families in a village near Taunsa Barrage illustrates what has been taking place among Christians, Hindus, and other minorities in some of the affected areas. The community was forced to rescue their livestock and families themselves when rescue teams did not help after their mud homes were flattened by floodwaters. They were not allowed in the relief camp because they were not Muslim but when they sought to have food aid delivered to them at their location outside the camp they were told they had to come to the camp to receive their aid. Yet due to their distance from the camp and prevailing flood-related conditions they were unable to make the necessary several daily treks to the camp.
This is a terrible abuse of vulnerable victims and a gross violation of their dignity and human rights. Moreover, it sets the stage for future abuses when individuals who have given in to pressure to convert or pass themselves off as Muslim seek to reclaim their former lives and religious identities. In a country where apostasy from and claims of blasphemy against Islam can lead to death these unfortunate people who only wanted food for their families on an equal basis with other victims face an uncertain and dangerous future and an added threat that their Muslim neighbours will never face.
As the world moves its attention to other issues and as Pakistan begins to move from relief to rebuilding, we must not leave behind those who have no voice. Our governments must demand that our aid be distributed to those who need it, without regard to religious or other criteria. If these basic requirements are not met, we must stop all aid immediately. There is no excuse to justify giving aid only to a certain segment of the population whether it is on religious or any other grounds. Under no circumstances should our governments condone such action by continuing to give aid that may be used to force people to convert to Islam. This is particularly important in the rebuilding stage as the decisions made today will have far-reaching and even permanent effects. We must not allow this tragedy to be used to further oppress and devastate the downtrodden minorities of Pakistan.
• for the religious minorities in Pakistan, that they would have courage and strength in the face of this tragedy and persecution and that their needs would be met both as they face their immediate needs and as they start to rebuild their lives and homes;
• for those who are distributing aid, that they would conduct their responsibilities with justice and righteousness and share the aid fairly and equally to all, regardless of their religious beliefs; and,
• for the Pakistani people, that this tragedy would bring them together and help them to see the strength that they can gain from their differences, rather than from seeking to impose one set of beliefs on all, and that this event would bring peace and equality to all Pakistanis, regardless of their religious beliefs.
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):
• to your minister or secretary responsible for international aid and development issues and your foreign minister or secretary of state, demanding that they ensure proper oversight of aid to Pakistan to ensure that aid is distributed fairly and evenly to all Pakistani victims of all religious identities and that all aid is stopped immediately if Pakistani authorities are not able to ensure that aid will be distributed without discrimination against religious minorities. Ask them to advise you of the steps they have taken to ensure that aid reaches all victims; and,
• to the embassy or high commission of Pakistan to your country, explaining that any kind of discrimination on religious or other grounds in the distribution of aid is unacceptable and demanding that they set up appropriate measures to ensure that aid reaches all flood victims on an equal and unconditional, universal basis.
Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at:firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
“They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream” in the Lord’s name.
Be with God and may God be with you.
Rev. Majed El Shafie
President and Founder
One Free World International
El Shafie Ministries
The Honourable Beverly Oda
Minister for International Cooperation
200 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, QC K1A 0G4
Tel: 819-997-5456; Fax: 819-953-6088
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Tel.: (613) 992-5516; Fax: (613) 992-6802
His Excellency Mian Gul Akbar Zeb
High Commission of Pakistan
10 Range Road
Ottawa, ON K1N 8J3
Tel. (613) 238-7881; Fax: (613) 238-7296
In the United States:
Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator
U.S. Agency for International Development
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20523
Tel.: (202) 712-4040
Secretary Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Tel.: (202) 647-4000 (Main switchboard)
His Excellency Husain Haqqani
Embassy of Pakistan
3517 International Court NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel.: (202) 243-6500; Fax: (202) 686-1534