Pakistani Christian Children Sold as Slaves to Fund Islamic Militants, Says Watchdog Group

A leading member of a militant Islamic organization based in Pakistan is funding its activities through the sale of Christian children into slavery, according to a Christian persecution watchdog group.

The militant Islamic organization, Gul Khan, is said to abduct children between the ages of six to twelve from their homes in remote Christian villages in the Punjab and incarcerate them in deplorable conditions until they are sold, reported U.K.-based Barnabas Fund on Thursday. Children supposedly sold into the sex trade or a life of domestic servitude sell for about $1,700 each.

“The revelation of this horrifying trade in Christian boys to fund Islamic terrorism is an extreme manifestation of the discrimination and oppression of Christians in Pakistan,” said Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, the International Director of Barnabas Fund. “The classical teachings of Islam on the second class status of non-Muslims (called dhimmi) create an attitude of contempt towards Pakistan’s Christian minority which is seen in a whole raft of daily discrimination, injustice and humiliation.”

According to Barnabas Fund, the children are beaten savagely, only fed once a day and ordered not to talk, play or pray.

The group reported that two Christian missionaries – one Pakistani, the other American – helped expose the slave trafficking after seeing photographs of boys for sale on the black market in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province.

The missionaries reportedly devised an elaborate and risky rescue plan where the Pakistani missionary posed as a Lahore businessman who wanted to buy boys to beg for him. The plan is said to have succeeded and the missionaries managed to buy back twenty boys and return them to their homes. Barnabas Fund said they were also able to film a member of the militant Islamic group Jamaat-ud Daawa (JUD) accepting money for 17 boys.

According to Barnabas Fund, Khan, the man who accepted the money, is a senior member of Jamaat-ud Daawa (JUD), an organization linked to Al-Qaeda. The U.S. State Department has declared JUD to be a front for a terrorist group Lashkar-i-Toiba which is banned in both Pakistan and the U.K. Yet JUD is popular in Pakistan for providing free medical care and education for the poor. After last year’s earthquake in Kashmir it was quick to give tents, blankets and food. At its base near Lahore, JUD claims to have created a “pure Islamic environment” that is superior to western “depravity.” The base was reportedly funded by Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s.

JUD and Al-Qaeda jointly attempted to assassinate the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, in 2003. JUD's leader, Hafez Muhamed Sayeed, was accused of inciting riots in Pakistan earlier this year in response to the publication of the Danish cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Although the evidence against Khan is overwhelming, the police have reportedly indicated that the power of groups such as JUD is too great for them to tackle. So far no investigation has taken place.

“The situation is exacerbated by issues of caste and poverty. It is in this context that such horrors can take place,” said Sookhdeo. “I am encouraged that the police did make some efforts in this case, but, as so often happens, they appear now to be intimidated themselves by the weight of the whole Islamist movement in Pakistan. I pray that the exposure of this slave trade to the international community will help bring an end to it.”