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Pakistan: Low-Wage Christian Government Employees Left Without Salaries on Easter

Pakistani Christians hold candles as they stage a rally in Lahore on March 29, 2016
Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

The government of the largest city in Pakistan failed to disburse the monthly salaries of more than 7,000 predominantly low-wage Christian employees in time for the Easter Sunday celebration on April 1. 

Although the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), the governing body in the capital of the Pakistani province of Sindh, did declare Easter a holiday for its workers who belong to the Christian faith, it “fell short of allowing disbursement of their salaries a couple of days ahead of the festival,” the Dawn newspaper learned from leaders of their labor unions. 

Zulfiqar Shah, the head of the KMC’s Sajjan Union (CBA), described the lack of salary disbursements as “discriminatory,” Dawn noted: 

There are over 7,000 workers — more than 4,500 regular and around 2,500 contractual — employed in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), municipal corporations of the Central, West and Korangi districts. According to sources, most of the Christian employees are low-paid workers drawing monthly salaries of BPS-1 and BPS-2 ie between [an estimated $130 and $190]. 

Ali Hassan Sajid, a spokesperson for the KMC, blamed the provincial government of Sindh for the delay, indicating that the Karachi ruling body “regretted” that the agency had not been able to dispense the salaries before Easter Sunday.

Dawn quoted Sajid as saying, “The KMC had approached the Sindh government for [the] release of the funds but without a positive response.”

The KMC spokesperson did note that the KMC “disbursed pension funds amounting to around [about $823,000] for the retired Christian employees so that at least some families could celebrate Easter in a proper manner.”

This year, members of the Christian minority community urged the Pakistani government to officially declare Good Friday and Easter as paid holidays. 

“Christians in Pakistan have demanded public holidays on Good Friday and Easter as both days are Eid [celebration] days for them,” reported the Pakistan Christian Post.

Pakistani Christians face persecution at the hands of “radical Islamic groups that flourish under the favor of political parties, the army, and the government,” Open Doors, an organization that monitors the mistreatment of Christians, pointed out in its latest annual World Watch List.

“These radical Islamic groups run thousands of Islamic education centers where youth are taught and encouraged to persecute religious minorities like Christians,” it added.

The organization ranks Pakistan as one of the top five countries where followers of Jesus Christ face the worst persecution.

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