Sen. Rand Paul called for an end to American foreign aid to Pakistan in the name of both persecuted young women and the many Christians forced to face the threat of violence and oppression in the country. Before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, Sen. Paul named several examples of women suffering for their gender and faith.
Citing the globally acclaimed Malala Yousafzai as an example of the struggles women must face in demanding education and equality in that nation, Sen. Paul noted that no woman in Pakistan who seeks education is safe, thanks to the threat of the Taliban.
Christians, too, are in danger. Sen. Paul noted the case of Asia Bibi, a woman convicted and sentenced to death for being a Christian. Bibi allegedly insulted the Prophet Muhammad after being stoned, dragged through streets, and threatened with death while visiting a Muslim well. The insult landed her on death row.
“According to her co-workers, she insulted the Prophet. In our country, we refer to such quibbling as gossip. In Pakistan, if you are a Christian, it can land you on death row,” Sen. Paul noted.
The United States has a moral imperative not to sponsor such human rights violations, the Senator argued. “Many countries that receive U.S. foreign aid have laws that officially discriminate against Christians. Persecution of women is wrong. Persecution of Christians is wrong. Persecution of women or Christians in the name of religion must be stood up to,” he concluded, adding, “American power, if it is to have value in the world, must be used as a force against persecution. Our aid money, for example, should never go to countries that persecute women or Christians, not one dime.”
Persecution of Christians in Pakistan has been on the rise in recent years. In April, reports circulated that up to 700 Christian women were forced to convert to Islam and marry in the country. A report by the Fides agency Solidarity and Peace Movement claimed that same number of women were being forced to convert and marry every year.
Not only Christian women are the targets of violence. Last September, a Christian congregation in the city of Peshawar was all but eliminated after a suicide bomb struck their church, killing 75 Christians of the 500-600 estimated to be in attendance for services that day. The incident earned the Pakistani government particular scorn due to the lack of law enforcement or security surrounding the church.
Watch Sen. Paul’s statements at the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee below: