On the 19th December 2009 over 120 people form all faiths including, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, Atheists and Christians marched for equality, justice and peace in Pakistan. The event was organised by the British Pakistani Christian Association in the wake of Taliban led attacks on Christian communities in Pakistan. The event also had the honour of being attended by Green Party MEP Jean Lambert and Baroness Cox.
Wilson Chowdhry is the Vice Chairman of the BPCA and is pleased to announce that since the Peace rally took place - the High Commissioner of Pakistan has agreed to meet an all faith/no faith delegation on the 8th January 2010, to discuss the persecution felt by minority faith groups in Pakistan Inter Alia; Ahmadi Muslims, Shi'ite Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs. Wilson said:
"We hope to arrange a meeting with the Interior Minister of Pakistan as a sequel to our initial delegation, he is soon due to visit the UK. The BPCA believe these actions will be early steps towards a free Pakistan, with an end to the existing second class citizenship felt by many. This is the biggest Christmas present we could give to the persecuted minorities in Pakistan, and is a stepping stone, to a more stable economic and social environment in Pakistan."
Many people in the UK have questioned why the BPCA is asking the British Government to get involved with what outwardly seems to be an international issue outside of their remit. Wilson responded:
"The British Government are allies with Pakistan and have regular and more convivial dialogue with the Country, than most nations. The war on terror that has been instigated by the British Government in union with the USA has caused an increase in the intensity and frequency of the attacks on Christian communities in Pakistan. In the last 4 months 3 cities have been burned to the ground in violent mob attacks that have left the poor Christian communities destitute and they are still being threatened by the perpetrators. Our government is providing resources and funding to the Pakistan government to support the war on terror, yet the popularity of the Taliban seem to have increased. If we are to win this war on terror and reduce our overall fiscal costs and resource outlay, surely it would be wiser to channel some of these funds into increasing the level of literacy in Pakistan. The Taliban brainwash the illiterate masses in Pakistan, and recruit from the Poverty stricken areas."
The BPCA believe that while there are people that need others to make their decisions for them, due to a lack of discernment - the Taliban will always be a popular outfit. Their group wishes to challenge the American Government and the British Government into provoking internal change in Pakistan. Equal rights should not be a preserve of the social elite and parity of opportunity is a must. More often than not, minority groups live in the most squalid conditions and undertake the most menial roles. Moreover, only 7% of individuals for minority groups are literate (admittedly over 50% of all Pakistanis are illiterate). Pakistan has signed up to the Human Rights Act and is a member of the UN, as such the blasphemy law which exists in their country is illegal and requires immediate reform. the BPCA believes the UN and the European Union should be involved in addressing change to a law that espouses first and second class citizenship, placing one race in a superior position.
What benefits would such engagement give to western nations you may ask - Wilson has an answer to this question:
"Better education would reduce the support for the Taliban, with the recent more direct attack by the western agencies against the Taliban, this could result in a more expedient and long term eradication of their militia group. It is proven that attacks to Christians and other minority faith groups are undertaken by the lower tier members of the Taliban, and other local fractious groups vying for power - almost always these are illiterate pawns, who have nothing to lose as they are in a social and economic quagmire. Better education and learning provides a more moderate social climate and more efficient economy. We believe this would reduce Asylum seekers based on religious persecution and reciprocally immigrants due to favourable conditions at home. In the long term this would mean more jobs for indigenous British people, less strain on our benefits system and a return of our service men, which reciprocally would lower the overall budget for our war on terror.
The BPCA will continue to fight for justice, peace and equality in Pakistan and would like anyone who supports the notion to sign the on-line petitions below:
Wilson Chowdhry with Jean Lambert Green Party MEP for London and EU Delegate to for South Asia to the European Union