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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Things you did not know about our community!

St Joesephs Church, Karachi.

Percentage of British Pakistani Christians in the UK:

In the 2001 census a figure of 8174 Pakistani Christians were purported to be living in the UK. These stats do not account for asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and those that are lost in the system due to unavailable information.

The BPCA belives that through births, new migrants and the increase in asylum seekers and illegal immigrants - a consequence of the worsening political and social climate in Pakistan that our pulation figure for the UK will have grown. Through are awareness of a growth in Urdu fellowships and links to more isolated pockets of our community the BPCA surmises that our community will have grown to at least 15,000 – 20, 000 People.

The total Pakistani Community in the UK was recorded as 747,285 making the British Pakistani Christian community only 1.09% of the overall Pakistani Population in the UK. The BPCA does not believe this is an accurate reflection of the percentage of worldwide Pakistanis that are Christian. We believe that reluctant immigration for religious Asylum from Paksitan and the lack of educational opportunities for native Pakistani Christian Communities 9creating limited Highly Skilled Migrant or general student visa's) has resulted in a lower level of migrations of Pakistani Christians to the UK.

History of British Indians (pre-Pakistan) in the UK:

Migrations to Europe from India (pre-Pakistan) are purported to have began during the middle ages via what we now term Romany peoples (gypsies). They are believed to be of North Indian (Romany) and Pakistani descent (Sinti). After the very first visit to India via the Vasco de Gama a Portuguese ship lascars (sailors) were recruited by the Portuguese to act as guides around the local islands. These lascars became used by many European visitors and many emigrated to and settled in the UK, marrying local indigenous women, due to the lack of their own native kind. By 1813 there were over 10,000 lascars living in Britain. The East India Company had introduced over 50,000 Indian scholars, sailors and workers to the UK by the mid 19th Century. Most of these migrants lived in Port towns.

History of British Indians and Pakistanis Post-Independence:

In the 1950’s and 60s a huge wave of migrations from both India and Pakistan resulted as part of a major recruitment drive to resolve the UK labour shortage. Most immigrants were working for the Nationalised Rail industry in existence then, due to the transferable skills from the development of a Rail industry in the Indian subcontinent during the East India Companies colonization years. Others worked at Heathrow Airport and Doctors and nurses were recruited for the newly formed “National Health Service”. Staff from the Indian Sub-continent, were recruited due to the high standards of medical services in Pakistan and India, commensurate with that of Britain (a product of British empire building).

Pakistani Christians in Pakistan:

The Pakistani Government purports that the Christian community in Pakistan is only around 2% of the entire Pakistani population. However, the BPCA believes this percentage to be incorrect – Bishops in Pakistan believe a percentage of 13% is closer to the truth. Churches exist in almost every city and town in Pakistan. Moreover, the primary aim of the British Raj was to save the souls of the “Pagans” in Pakistan. Our community has survived much persecution and continues to grow and stabilise despite the adversities it is continually subjected to. We are challenging the Pakistani Government to undertake a new census, using researchers from mixed religious and ethnic diversities (reducing potential for corruption). We believe new data would improve the existing employment and Local and National Government recruitment positions for minority groups (part of recent proposed positive discrimination to address imbalance).

However, small our community is in the UK - a turnout of close to 300 people at previous protest marches is low and evidences the apathy in our community. We need to strive harder if we are to highlight the persecution of our people in Pakistan. The Indian Christian community was measured at 50,700 in the 2001 UK census. I hope a large number of our brothers from this contiguous community, come out in support of our protest as we just cannot fight this campaign ourselves.

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