How many Hindus currently live in Pakistan
Pakistan came about because extremist Hindus and Muslims did not want to live together. Those who do not belong to the majority in the Islamic Republic today are marginalized, have to do dirty work or leave the country.
Nothing remains of the founding father's vision. Mohammed Ali Jinnah dreamed of an Islamic country in which people of other religions could freely live their faith.
But today, terrorist-ridden Pakistan is firmly in the hands of hard-line Islamicists. The division of British India into Islamic Pakistan and predominantly Hindu India was followed by a mass exodus. Hindus from Pakistan fled to India, Muslims from India to Pakistan. The violence at the time cost the lives of almost half a million people.
Irfahn Masih died recently. The 30-year-old Pakistani Christian was killed on June 1, 2017 for being a Chuhra, one of those who clean the stinking sewers and sewers in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and other cities in Pakistan.
"Chuhra" synonym for "Christians"
In Pakistan, "Chuhra" is also a synonym for "Christians". Irfahn Masih had inhaled poisonous gases during his work in the sewers in the small town of Umarkot. In the city hospital, the Muslim doctors refused to treat the young Chuhra - because it was Ramadan and pious Muslims defile themselves through contact with "unclean" people during the month of fasting.
Sewer cleaners, garbage collectors, street sweepers - these jobs are "reserved" for Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan such as Hindus, Sikhs and even Islamic minorities such as Shiites and Ahmadis. City administrations openly emphasize in their tenders that "only non-Muslims" can apply for such jobs.
According to the Christian information service World Watch Monitor, 80 percent of all garbage collectors and sewer workers in Pakistan are non-Muslims. This is a direct consequence of the division of British India 70 years ago into Islamic Pakistan and Hindu India.
Until the division: dirty work for the minority religions
Until the partition, the Hindu Dalit, the untouchables, did this work. After the mass exodus of the Hindus to India, members of minority religions had to do the dirty work in predominantly Islamic Pakistan. Pakistan owes its radical Islamization to Zia ul Haq. The general came to power in 1978. As a result, hardliners gained the upper hand.
Again and again bloody attacks on religious minorities, but also on moderate Muslim politicians, shake the country.
Of the roughly 10.5 million Pakistani Christians, 68 percent are unemployed, 67 percent live below the poverty line and only four percent have an education. Christians are deliberately denied education. Speaking to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Salamat Akhtar, chair of the All Pakistan Christian League, recalls a conversation with a former minister of education. "If all Christians were educated, there would be no one left to sweep the streets and collect the garbage," the politician told him. He didn't know that he was facing a Christian at that moment.
"Fear of bloodshed"
On the 70th Independence Day, Pakistan is once again in political chaos. As a result of a corruption scandal, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was removed from office by the Supreme Court at the end of July this year. As political tensions rise, so do religious ones. "We are afraid of bloodshed before the parliamentary elections scheduled for next year," says the Catholic Samson Salamat, chairman of the interfaith "Movement for Tolerance" in Lahore. Christians who can afford it financially are fleeing Pakistan. Like the middle class family of Akhtar Saleem from Lahore, who found refuge in Bangkok four years ago.
"Radical Muslims accused us of being US spies," said the 67-year-old Anglican with the gray mustache over breakfast in a parish in Bangkok. "They said, 'Americans are Christians and you are Christians. So you are paid by the US to destroy Islam.' Then they gave us an ultimatum: "If you want to live, you have to become Muslims. If not, we'll kill you. You have 24 hours." Saleem knows: "There is no security for Christians in Pakistan."
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