As torrential flooding spanned across various regions of Pakistan this summer and washed away thousands of homes, Christians in Kasur have received very little humanitarian aid and have been left to starve if they don't convert to Islam or become modern-day slaves in order to receive help from Muslims or the government.
Wilson Chowdhry, the president of the British Pakistani Christian Association, told The Christian Post that there are more than 60 Christian families in the western Pakistani region of Kasur that have lost their homes and all worldly possessions when the deluge hit this summer and washed their mud homes and everything inside them away.
While Muslims in the region have benefited from temporary shelter, clean water and food provided by Pakistani government agencies and Muslim charities, Christians have largely been without those bare necessities and medication needed to fight illnesses that can occur after flooding.
Chowdhry explained that some Muslim charities are giving Christians the option to convert to Islam and renounce Jesus if they want to receive help.
"We are aware that this community has previously been offered aid from Muslim charities if they convert, but they choose not to accept conversion. These suffering Christians hold strong to their faith. They believe God will be their provider," Chowdhry explained. "These families have literally been struggling without food. Churches have opened up their doors but can't provide them much aid because the churches themselves in the region are struggling. We are talking about a very rural deprived area of Pakistan."
Chowdhry added that as desperation started to get the best of the Christian population in Kasur, many Kasur Christians ended up signing bonded labor contracts in order to receive aid from Muslim landlords before BPCA arrived in the region.
"We arrived very late. We first went to Layyah and Gilgit where flooding was most severe, but if we had arrived in Kasur seven days earlier, there could have been more lives that we potentially could have saved from this modern-day slavery," Chowdhry said. "Several families have already now signed contracts, which has now made them slaves for their Muslim landlords."
Although the flooding hit other regions like Layyah and Gilgit, Chowdhry stated that through "the grace of God," Christians in those areas were "unaffected" by the flooding. After BPCA officer Naveed Aziz visited Christians in Layyah and Gilgit, he then made his way to Kasur where he noticed that Christians in that region were not as fortunate.
"I was shocked at the immense devastation before me it was a lot to take in," Aziz said in a statement. "People are in real desperation and children are starving. I am surprised and shocked at the lack of help from Pakistani authorities."
As flooding has become a consistent problem for Pakistan over the last five years, Chowdhry said it "is not unusual for the government to overlook helping the Christian communities."
"When it comes to responding to the flooding of Christian communities, the government seems to back off. Whereas with Muslim communities they respond immediately as do the Muslim charities," Chowdhry said. "Muslim charities depend upon their Muslim supporters for their donations, so, helping Muslims helps generate publicity and support."
The BPCA will aid 60 Christian families from two different Christian communities in Kasur. BPCA will provide basic food items like rice, flour and pulses to help prevent those communities from starving. Additionally, the BPCA will provide medication for Dengue fever.
"I'm sure there are more, but these are the 60 families that we are going to be able to help. Anything larger scale than that, we are going to need a lot more resources," Chowdhry asserted. "They will literally be eating bread for the duration of the time that we are helping as that's what we can provide. It is very basic but healthy enough to sustain them."
With donations from an unnamed Christian charity who work in Africa, BPCA also plans to build three water pumps in the region to help get those communities access to fresh drinking water.
BPCA would love to provide more for the distressed community in Kasur, but only has enough funds to provide what little the organization can. BPCA started a fundraising effort to help Christian flood victims, however, the effort has only raised the equivalent of $392.
"To be honest with you, Christians and their lack of support is very frustrating," Chowdhry admitted. "We do what little we can with the donations that are coming through. We are giving very basic meals at the moment. Luckily, we have the funding for the pumps from another group. People really need to dig down."
"In Matthew 25:40 "The King will reply: 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" Chowdhry recited: "As Christians we should reflect on that: we need to help the needy."
Chowdhry is also calling on the Pakistani government to stop ignoring the Christian community and put in place infrastructure that will help limit damage caused by flooding.
"Most of the dams in Pakistan are outdated and in need of restoration. They need to be larger and more efficient," Chowdhry argued. "In tandem with this, there has to be more coordination between India and Pakistan to ensure existing and future dam infrastructure compliments both nations."