RELEASE – Save the Persecuted Christians: President Trump, Tell the World Bank to Watch Pakistan Closely

Save the Persecuted Christians | April 20, 2020

In Open Letter to the President, Secretary of State and World Bank Leader, Advocates Stress That Christians in Pakistan Are Being Denied Coronavirus Relief

WASHINGTON—Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), which advocates on behalf of hundreds of millions of Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, has coordinated with the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) for an important open letter to President Donald Trump regarding aid to Christians in Pakistan during the coronavirus pandemic.

Besides President Trump, the letter signed by Dede Laugesen, executive director of STPC, John Prabhudoss, chairman of FIACONA, and representatives of 51 other coalition partners, is being sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group.

“Save the Persecuted Christians, FIACONA and our coalition of 51 organizations writes to draw your urgent attention to a dire situation developing in Pakistan,” the letter begins. “Contacts in Pakistan, NGOs and the media are reporting that some Christians are being denied their government rations by Muslim NGOs approved by Pakistan to distribute funds, food and other supplies.”

Earlier this month, World Bank issued a press release on COVID-19 aid to Pakistan, which stated that the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors “approved a $200 million package to help Pakistan take effective and timely action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening the country’s national healthcare systems and mitigating socioeconomic disruptions. This support will also draw an extra $38 million from eight existing projects for urgently needed medical equipment and supplies. While focusing on the COVID-19 preparedness and emergency response in the health sector, the Pandemic Response Effectiveness Project (PREP) will also help the poor and vulnerable cope with the immediate impact of the pandemic through social protection measures, food rations, and remote learning education.”

“While we support the World Bank’s recent announcement on the allocation to Pakistan of a $200 million aid package for coronavirus relief through its Pandemic Response Effectiveness Project, we are concerned that funds made available to the government of Pakistan will be solely, or primarily, distributed to the affected populations through local Muslim NGOs to the exclusion of Christian NGOs which, in ordinary times, are often the victims of government-based discrimination,” the letter writers continued.

The Christian advocacy organizations further noted that Independent Catholic News reports: “Christians in Karachi have gone on record as saying that NGOs operating in the port city providing food to the homeless, were refusing to give food vouchers to members of minority faith groups, reporting that only Muslims were given them.”

Laugesen and Prabhudoss further noted that established contacts in Pakistan have reported directly to Save the Persecuted Christians multiple instances where representatives from Muslim NGOs have placed conditions on government-issued food rations for Christians. Several Pakistani Christian civil society leaders—who must remain anonymous due to the risk they take in reporting these instances—have said Christians whom they advocate for and serve were told they would need to convert to Islam if they wanted to receive their COVID-19 rations.

Also according to the letter, since the World Bank announced the aid package, the government of Pakistan has mandated that all individuals seeking government rations would need to register through a cell phone-based app. Those without phones, internet access or technological understanding may work through a government-approved NGO who can register on their behalf.

The letter concluded:

“Unfortunately, the same dynamic is at play where Christian NGOs may be discriminatorily excluded from providing World Bank relief funds. Individual Christians again are at risk of being harassed, threatened and denied aid. The monetary relief provided by the World Bank promises to be a lifeline to millions of Pakistan’s daily wage earners who have lost their income due to the lockdown. An overwhelming majority of the 4 million Christians in Pakistan are marginalized, very poor day laborers or indentured servants.

“Mr. President, Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan need your immediate intervention. The government of Pakistan must enact and enforce measures to correct discrimination and harassment in the distribution of COVID-19 aid. This needs to happen immediately before at-risk Christians and other religious minorities begin to starve and die as a result.

“Please advise the President of the World Bank, Mr. David Malpass, to ensure that no Pakistani is denied badly needed relief funds because of their religion or belief. We ask that you direct the World Bank to take appropriate action to hold the government of Pakistan accountable with serious consequences should these incidents of discrimination continue.

“World Bank officials must also ensure Christians in remote, poverty-stricken areas are informed, equipped and given assistance without being subject to discrimination and harassment. They must insist that NGOs tasked with providing relief are selected in a transparent process without bias towards their religious affiliation. Finally, the World Bank must demand accountability from the government of Pakistan in its management of the $200 million COVID-19 relief.”

View the letter here.

The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians, led by leaders of nearly 200 faith and civil society groups, is to save lives and save souls by disseminating actionable information about the magnitude of the persecution taking place globally and by mobilizing concerned Americans for the purpose of disincentivizing further attacks on those who follow Jesus.

With so much of the world’s Christian population being imprisoned and/or harassed for their beliefs, including Christians in Pakistan, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemicallythe suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.


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