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Saturday, 29 December 2012

Bizarre Bazaars

In this blog we often tell the stories of persecution, rape and murder that are the more or less daily lot of Christians in Pakistan.  

But discrimination and oppression takes many less news-worthy forms.  
The Punjab state government announced subsidies for Christmas bazaars in several Christian areas of Lahore.  In this case, bazaars are where subsidized clothes and other goods are sold at cheap prices at times when presents are expected.  They area also held at Ramzam (also known as Ramadan) a major Muslim festival period.  It means that poor people can afford the presents for children and others that are customary at this time.  

The trouble is that this year, the promised Christmas bazaars (desperately needed as most Christians in Pakistan are extremely poor) have not materialized, or at least not in Yahunabad, the major Christian area of the city.  Local Christians have charged that these bazaars 'exist only on paper' and in the speeches of Christian political leaders.  They claim billions of rupees were spent on Ramadan bazaars, but despite media campaigns and announcements by the government, no money has been earmarked for Christmas bazaars for Christians.  They complain that Christian political leaders (and indeed some affluent church pastors) have been using the poverty of Christians to score points, but do not actual take action, and remain indifferent.  One local Christian complained that

“The Christian population is being exploited by our representatives who fail to deliver on their promise"

He said no Christian lawmaker checked to see if the government was keeping to its promises, and portrayed them as out of touch with the Christian poor, and hosting events for the major political leader and twice former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif 

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