Pakistani Christians moving to foreign countries out of fear

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 22:26

Karachi: Pakistani Christians are migrating in large numbers to other countries especially to Thailand out of fear for their safety and security, a media report said on Tuesday.

While no official figures are available on how many Christians and their families have moved from Pakistan, many of them hail from either Karachi or Lahore, Express Tribune newspaper reported.

From Karachi, many Christian families have fled silently, from Dastagir, Pahar Ganj, Mianwali Colony, Akhtar Colony and Essa Nagri. A majority of them opted for Thailand, which offers cheap airfare and easy access to tourist visas.

Noel Alfonce who worked at the National Commission for Peace and Justice in Karachi was involved in assisting victims of forced conversions and their families and visiting the burned down and bullet-riddled churches after they were attacked. He moved to Thailand after getting death threats from unknown callers who threatened to harm his 10-year old daughter.

"I wouldn`t have been bothered had they threatened me, but when it comes to your children, you sometimes have to take harsh decisions," Aflonce was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

"Apart from personal attacks and threats, the Badami Bagh incident in Lahore and the church bombing in Peshawar have led to an increase in migration of Christians. Unemployment and lack of security are making them leave," former parliamentarian Michael Javed said.

The report said 40-year-old Aslam Masih, a sweeper at the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation is another Christian who has moved to Thailand.

"Last December, when a PMT crashed down near his house in Taiser Town, plunging the Christian colony into darkness, his decision was made.

"We had no light, no gas, no water. We had no better jobs. We were living like animals," he said speaking from Thailand over the phone.

A pastor, Moazzam, who had helped several Christians move to Thailand, was contacted and paid Rs 100,000 to arrange for the travel of six family members of Aslam, for their visas, their tickets and their documentations, the report said.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Zohra Yusuf said that the state has failed to stand up for minorities.

"It is unfortunate and sad that the minorities are leaving the country as they are being persecuted."

On the other hand, former parliamentarian and minority representative Michael Javed feels that incidents of Christians leaving the country are not being given importance.

"When Hindu families were leaving Pakistan, everyone was raising the issue. But why are they silent over our migration? Are we not also citizens of the country?", he said.

PTI

First Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 22:26

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