By – Shamim Masih
ISLAMABAD: Christians had the largest education and health system in Pakistan at the time of partition until the civil dictator Z A Bhutto nationalized their institutions. Now you can see the incredulous hypocrisy of Pakistan’s school system especially as it affects religious minorities and worse, the girls of these minorities. This segment of our society remains uneducated and indulged in household jobs. They are being sexually harassed and then being forced to convert to Islam. Girls from the minority go to public school and face discrimination. Minority students are not only forced to study Islamic studies but forced to do manual jobs like cleaning in the school while other students remain in the class rooms. Iffat Nasim, headmistress of the Government Khadija Girls High School in Rawalpindi, is reportedly involved in extra-educational activities by indulging the Christian students in cleaning/washing classrooms, toilets, verandas/corridors for hours and preparing burgers/buns from Muslim students for earning money for her. Despite the intentions of the Pakistani government, the educational system has failed to eradicate illiteracy in the post-independence era. It has also failed to train an adequate number of professionals to meet the needs of the country in different fields, which has been a major hindrance to the nation's economic development. The above mentioned is one example as there is series of this type of characters.
But still Christian’s missionary institutions has large network in the country and they can serve better to the nations. Sajid Ishaq, chairman Pakistan Interfaith League – PIL is eager to educate the youth of the Pakistani Christians. Talking about the recent situation in the country and future of the Pakistani minorities, he said education is the key to save future of the Christian’s youth. Chairman PIL shared his plan to educate the Christian youth and said that this is evident in the cities established by the British, such as the port city of Karachi where majestic St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Pakistan’s largest church, stands, and the churches in the cities of Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi where the British established a major military cantonment. European and wealthy native Christians established colleges, churches, hospitals and schools in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.
He said that since Christian students are being ignored and remain uneducated and thus they cannot enter into the main stream. He requested the church administrations of the country, if they allow him to use their premises in the evening to educate the Christian youth throughout the country. He further claimed that he has collected the drop out data and has planned to teach them in the evening classes. According to his plan, he can arrange the teaching classes for the poor Pakistani Christian students if the church administrations allow him to use the buildings of the schools, colleges in the evening. He said with the limited budget we can reach to the unreached children of the Pakistani Christians. And thus after sixteen years, we will have new educated lot of the christen youth.
Despite the fact of the differences between us, we need to focus to address the severe conditions of the Pakistani Christians. Since Christians are being persecuted under severe conditions, all the prominent Christian leadership should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with each other. Each and every person in charge or claim to be; should take the responsibility to teach at least Christian student for a better future generation. Educational institutions with a religious background should take interest and focus the deserving students.