LAHORE: A large number of Pakistani Christians are leaving Pakistan preferring asylum in foreign countries.
According to a latest report sent to Fides by a Pakistani NGO- World Vision in Progress claims that about 14,000 Pakistani Christians have sought asylum in foreign countries. The World Vision in Progress clarified that as a result of the increasing terrorism, insecurity and harsh living conditions the religious minorities are abandoning Pakistan. In the past year for instance about 14,000 Pakistani Christians have sought asylum in Asian countries but also in Western countries, in Europe and America.
Farrukh H. Saif- Executive Director of the World Vision in Progress stated: The situation is serious; minorities, especially Christians and Hindus are being targeted for acts of terrorism, mass violence and abuse of the blasphemy law. Because of this situation an increasing number of families choose to leave Pakistan. Thousands of Pakistani Hindus seek refuge in India, while Christians, Ahmadis, Shias and other religious groups have reached East Asia and South Asia and have registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), hoping to be able to settle in a country where they can enjoy equal rights.
He continued: flight of Christians began in 2009, when Christian neighborhoods and villages in Punjab were attacked by Muslim extremists. Hundreds of homes were burned and hundreds of Christians from Gojra and Korian took refuge in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Also in March 2013 Islamic fanatics attacked the ‘Joseph colony’ Christian area in Lahore. According to our investigations, last year 14,000 Pakistani Christians sought asylum in countries of East Asia and South Asia.
He noted: in order to stop the exodus, the Pakistani government should stop terrorism and provide security to Pakistani Christians and other religious minorities. A few months ago – he continues – Pakistani authorities intercepted a thousand Christians who were travelling to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong and stopped them. In the second week of June, the Sri Lankan police launched an operation against Pakistani Christians seeking asylum, and arrested them; an action contrary to the rules and international principles. In fact, a host country cannot arrest refugees if they are registered under the auspices of the UNHCR.
World Vision in Progress has appealed to the international community to help curb the suffering of religious minorities in Pakistan. The NGO has also urged the countries in which refugees seek asylum to respect of humanitarian law and the rules of international law concerning the refugees. World Vision in Progress strives to bring to end religious minority discrimination in Pakistan and to uphold respectable living conditions for them in the country.