In an interview with the radio station TWR, the British Pakistani Christian Association’s Wilson Chowdhry, discusses the possible future political instability in Pakistan and its implications for Christians and other minorities.
Already existing tensions are on the rise between the government, the judiciary and the powerful military (including the notorious ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence and security service), against a background of rumours of a possible coup by the ISI and the military.
Mr Choudhry expressed concern that while an improvement in conditions for vulnerable minorities like Christians was possible with some kind of regime change, the opposite was more likely to happen, citing the example of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ where increasingly intolerant Islamicist groups have taken over, resulting in gravely deteriorating conditions. In addition, he said that general unrest of any sort would provide a great opportunity for Islamic militants – or indeed, anyone with a grudge – to attack Christians while the already weak forces of law and order were otherwise occupied.
He also discussed the general level of corruption in Pakistani society and especially politics. In the light of this, he raised again the BPCA’s concern about the UK’s aid to Pakistan, in particular in the area of education. He noted that a recent report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom on Pakistan’s education system revealed significant prejudice and bias in textbooks against religious minorities even in government run schools. In the light of this, the BPCA have called for the government to introduce stringent safeguards so that the UK funds granted for literacy campaigns are not used to spread intolerance.
Now, in the light of the general corruption in Pakistan, the BPCA is going further and recommending that the UK government send the aid through vetted and monitored NGO’s and charity’s in partnership with the Pakistani government, saying that this will reduce the level of money lost to corruption and help ensure that the money will be spent in ways that promote standards that better represent the UK’s values of tolerance and freedom and also the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices commitment to counter the causes of terrorism.