Persecution of minorities is one of the unfortunate hallmarks of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Despite facing the brunt of extremism, minorities in Pakistan including Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs have joined hands in assisting the Pakistan Government to battle coronavirus pandemic. EurAsian Times gets you a report from Anadolu Agency.
The COVID19 pandemic has engulfed the entire nation with a total of 4409 confirmed cases and 64 deaths as on April 9. Pakistan PM Imran Khan has warned the situation could deteriorate if stringent measures are not adopted.
There has not been a lockdown in Pakistan as 50 million people are below the poverty line (BPL) and will be the ones most affected by it. Along with introducing new schemes to tackle the economic backlash, the PM urged the public to follow self-isolation to flatten the curve.
Amidst the chaos, all communities have come together, overlooking their religious differences, to help the BPL families in need.
The country’s economic capital Karachi saw a group of 15 volunteers in a large room filled with groceries while flawlessly following the norms of social distancing. The virus has filled the citizens with a sense of community as they work together to help nearly 25% of the country’s over 200 million population, which lives below the poverty line.
Overlooking their religious difference, Sunil Harsi is one of the many Hindu volunteers who have joined hands with different relief agencies to provide rations, and sanitation products to low-income masses amid the outbreak that has put the entire country under a crippling lockdown.
Workers of the city’s mainstream religious party have been more than helpful during these tough times. Harsi, 32, a city councilor for Jamaat-e-Islami has been an active volunteer in the relief efforts.
He told the Anadolu Agency that he reports to party’s charity wing Al-Khidmat Foundation every noon to chalk out the day’s plan. They receive a lot of goods from philanthropists and distribute them on the next day, he added.
The distribution of these goods is fairly divided and done in every slum. As for Harsi and his colleagues, they have been assigned to operate in two slums areas in Gulshan-e-Iqbal town, a middle-income bracket locality.
They have been using motorcycles and small vehicles for the commute through the narrow streets of the slums. Harsi’s street knowledge has played a vital role in this process. Since he grew up in the area, he identifies the needy and can see tell them apart from the greedy ones. “
“We do not gather people on the streets to distribute ration in order to observe social distancing. We deliver rations at the doorsteps” he added. The faith and support these communities have been showing towards each other restore one’s faith in humanity.
Adnan Sadiq, a young Christian volunteer, who is also part of the group, counts his involvement in the operation. Having joined the group just 2 weeks ago, Adnan, 22, says he is very proud to be a part of something like this.
“I am proud to be part of this [relief campaign]. In this way, I am contributing something to the society, and my own community as well,” Sadiq said while thanking his Muslim friend for letting him know about the campaign.
He also added that about a dozen Hindu and Christian volunteers have been doing their part with different charities. A Hindu by religion, Seema Maheshwari, a human rights activist who too has been engaged in rations distribution among needy people in different parts of Karachi expressed her gratitude towards the Muslim community who assisted and acknowledged her work.
Maheshwari went on to say how many Muslim philanthropists have assured her of their support. So far, she has successfully distributed rations among 250 families in different parts of the city. “ We are distributing rations among needy Hindus, Christians, and Muslims. It’s not about religion, race or community. It’s all about humanity.”
Pakistan’s tiny, but magnanimous Sikh community is also contributing to provide relief to low-income people. From supplying ration to allotting already allotted portions at scores of gurdwaras — worship places — as isolation cells for suspected coronavirus patients, the Sikh community is doing everything in their power to help the ones in need.
Charanjeet Singh, a community leader talked about how he distributed food amongst the needy people irrespective of their religious affiliation, in the gurdwaras in Karachi, Peshawar and Nanakana Sahib.