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Is aid only for Sunnis?

19 Aug

Pakistan is going through a rough patch since deadly terrible floods have hit the country creating the worst “humanitarian crisis. One third of Pakistan’s population has been affected by this horrifying natural calamity which is yet to end. Around 20 million people have seen this phase of their lives ending and the disaster has turned them into helpless refugees. Except the support and aid being generated at home, the crisis needs huge aid packages for rehabilitation of these people from international community. After the United Nations’ appeal for funds, the USA and the Britain respectively have come forward generously so far. But the pledged aid looks so small in the face of destruction. After 2005 earthquake, the floods put the whole nation in a painful and helpless situation where the generous hearts too are hesitant in offering what they could due to suspicions and lack of trust in the government.

Under these circumstances, where 20 million Pakistanis have become affectees, how can anyone think in terms of religious bias and prejudice. The reports exposing that Ahmadis are being isolated and denied aid, food and shelter among relief camps sound so unbelievable. Not in my wildest dreams, I ever thought that religious bias could be strong to this extend where in the midst of death and suffering, Ahmadis are receiving this discriminatory treatment. Families were thrown out of camps on the excuse that other people did not want to live with them at the same place. At some places, aid never reached those areas where Ahmadi families were living. Ahmadis had to spend days and nights on rooftops of their inundated houses or some left to stay with the other members of Ahmadi community. What sort of Muslims and Pakistanis are we; what made us to be proud of ourselves? Is this one of the reasons that even while fighting against the worst disaster, we never forget to express our bias and hatred for those who have different notion of religion. Till how long I will survive with this belief that humanity is the best religion and all biases and prejudices look small in front of it. This attitude of people has added more pain into what we have been suffering in form of floods. Please people we need to be united and it is the right time to rise above these prejudices. We need to have concentrated efforts with positive and constructive minds and big hearts. All the victims are affectees and above all human beings, nothing more than that. The best religion is humanity which is the core of all existing religions and the violation of this core is an insult to all religions and beliefs.

Below is the article:

An article from The Express Tribune forwarded by the Asian Human
Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Ahmedi families are denied shelter in relief camps

The government and local clerics refused to shelter around 500
flood-affected families belonging to the Ahmadiya community in South
Punjab’s relief camps. Not only that, the government also did not
send relief goods to the flood-hit areas belonging to the Ahmadiya
community, The Express Tribune has learnt during a visit to the
devastated Punjab districts of Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan and
Rajanpur.

For its part, the government claims that all relief goods are being
distributed among survivors without discrimination. And that all
survivors have been sheltered in relief camps without distinction. The
flood-devastated families from the Ahmadiya community have strongly
criticised the government’s “discriminatory attitude” even at a time
when the entire country is reeling from the ravages of the worst
flooding in living memory.

Of the 500 Ahmadi families, 350 belong to DG Khan, 60 to Muzaffargarh
and 65 to Rajanpur district. According to Ahmadiya community leaders,
over 2,500 members of their community have been displaced and are now
living with their relatives while some of them have left for Rabwah,
the community’s headquarters.

Aziz Ahmad Khan, a local leader of flood victims from the Ahmadiya
community in DG Khan, told The Express Tribune that all members of his
family have complained of discrimination in DG Khan. He said 200
families from Basti Rindan and Basti Sohrani, 60 from Chah Ismaeel
Wala, three from Rakh Mor Jangi, 18 from Ghazi Ghat and 12 from Jhakar
Imam Shah of Ahmadpur. Khan alleged that 200 families, who have been
displaced from Basti Rindan and Basti Sohrani by flooding, took
shelter in a state-run school at Jhok Utra but within days the local
administration forced them to leave the school. He said the local
administration later told them that people from the surrounding areas
did not want the Ahmadis in the relief camp. And that the
administration could not allow them to stay at the camp as it could
create a law and order situation.

“So we left our cattle and other belongings in the area and took
refuge in the homes of our community members on higher grounds,” he
said, adding that some of them even migrated to Chanabnagar.

Muhammad Iqbal Sohrani, a member of the Ahmadiya community told The
Express Tribune that around 40 Ahmadi families who took shelter in a
state-run school at Jhakar Imam Shah near Sumandri, some 40 kilometres
from DG Khan, have not received any relief either from philanthropists
or from the government. He alleged that relief packages were being
distributed through local lawmakers who have been told by the district
administration that the Ahmadis are not eligible for any support.

Saleem Chandia, another Ahmadiya community member, said that he along
with 40 other community members rented a house but after two days
their landlord was forced by local clerics to evict them. Chandia said
they were offered help by their own community members after wandering
for several days in search of shelter.

Mansoor Ahmad, a resident of Muzaffargarh, told The Express Tribune
that over 800 members of the Ahmadiya community were displaced from
Bait Nasirabad, Masroornagar, Hussainwala and Shahjamal. At least 100
members of the community, from Hussainwala and Masroorabad, were
trapped at Shahjamal. He claimed that they had asked the district
police officer (DPO) and the district coordination officer (DCO) to
provide them a boat or to rescue the trapped people but they did not
take notice.

Ahmad claimed that the trapped Ahmadis were rescued by their fellows
on a broken boat. He said local clerics have issued an edict that the
Ahmadis should not be provided help.

Naseem Ahmad, from Rajanpur, told The Express Tribune that their 500
community members from the areas of Basti Lashari, Basti Allahdad
Dareeshak and from Basti Azizabad were displaced. Their houses were
washed away and the government and local clerics ignored them. He said
that they were not allowed to stay in state-run schools or in camps,
therefore the majority of them were living on the rooftops of their
inundated houses.

“The Ahmadiya community itself rescued trapped people and delivered
relief to them,” community spokesperson Saleem-ul-Din told The
Express Tribune by phone.

He said that the community did not want any relief package from the
government for its members. However, the government should protect the
property and livestock of the Ahmadis.

Hassan Iqbal, Commissioner DG Khan, told The Express Tribune that he
would check the situation. He asked the Ahmadis to directly approach
him if they face discrimination anywhere in the district. However, DCO
Muzaffargarh Farasat Iqbal said that the Ahmadis have not contacted
him.

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Posted by on August 19, 2010 in Ahmadis, Tragedy/Crisis/Disaster

 

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