by Saman Ataurehman
Due to increasing extremism and intolerance, members of minority communities are not able to find even simple labor jobs, even if employers would like to hire them, without their lives being threatened.Liaqat Masih, the name he gave, said that he and his refined and elegant wife had given up their positions in the school system and moved to Lahore to build a better future their son. Minority communities migrated to the big cities hoping there would be less discrimination there.
At first, he said, he could not find a job, apparently because of his name, Masih [Jesus], until he joined The Morgan Bread Factory as an Assistant Administrative Manager in February 2011.
After a few days at this job, he said, a part-time worker, who was a cleric and prayer leader in a mosque nearby, demanded that the canteen manager to keep separate utensils for him, due to his Christian faith. When he brought this matter to the attention of the owner of the factory, the owner immediately fired the part-time worker; but after a few months, the same complaint surfaced through another worker. That worker, too, was made to quit, and Liaqat was encouraged to stay in his job, especially as he had managed to reduce theft in the factory by half.
Soon, however, complaints against him became routine. His coworkers began accusing him of preaching Christianity and favoring America. He began receiving death threats, he said, but still did not quit the job. "I did not want to die of starvation," he said.
In November 2011, the owner of the factory received a letter demanding that Liaqat be expelled or assassinated. The owner of the factor told him it was impossible to provide adequate security, so Liaqat Masih was fired from his job.
He said he is still receiving death threats and is unable to find work: he has been threatened with death if he does. The only way to work, he was told, would be to embrace Islam.
As early as 2005, the bishop of Peshawar, Bishop Munarwar Rumalshah, had stated in an interview with The News (Aug 7, 2005): "If I am asked to single out one major point of discrimination against my community, it is that jobs are not available to its members. As a result, the struggle for survival has left us out. If you close the tap of economic survival on us, there is no need of physically killing us. So all this talk of protection is meaningless [unless something is done about the economic welfare of Christian community]."
During the last two decades, a number Christians have migrated to Lahore in search of a livelihood. The increase of Christians has raised their presence there to about 10% of the city. Christians are about 1.5% of the population of Pakistan, but due to increasing extremism and intolerance, members of minority communities are not able to find even simple labor jobs, even if employers would like to hire them, without their lives being threatened.
Social justice now apparently includes demands for firing workers, denying them promotion, excluding them from renting places to live.
Even though the factory owner was willing to retain Liquat, his vulnerability in being denied the ability to earn his bread is another way to kill him.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.