Image of two Pakistani boys

Poverty is much more than lack of money.

“Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not being able to go to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom.”

World Bank

Poverty is “more dangerous than terrorism”.

Punjab Chief Minister ,Shahbaz Sharif

60% of Pakistan’s population lives on less than £2 a day and 23% on less than £1.

Minority groups and poverty

For the Christian and Hindu minorities, due to their origin and marginalised status, the percentages are much higher. No official statistics are available.

At the creation of Pakistan as a homeland for Muslims, most Hindus fled east to India. A small remnant stayed in Pakistan, hoping to continue to live peacefully as before. Many are desperately poor tribal peoples in the southern desert or northern mountains, isolated and neglected in Muslim Pakistan.

Christians fared no better. Coming mainly from the lowest strata of the social order, they have been increasingly marginalised and isolated, their privileges withdrawn. A devastating blow was struck when the Government nationalised many of the Christian colleges and schools in 1972. Christians have few opportunities for education or progress in modern Pakistan.

Poverty’s unpleasant companions

  • Many poor families send their children to work to bring in any small amount of money to feed the family. Children, some even below the age of 10, work with their parents in the brick kilns and carpet factories.
  • Minority communities are open to severe exploitation, and many end up unemployed, become drug addicts or are abused in the sex trade.
  • Many Christians live in villages or in city slums, where minority communities live together largely for their own security.
  • Deeply entrenched social prejudice makes success in business very hard for the minorities.
  • Of the 5 million Christians in Pakistan, half are below the age of 20: that’s 2.5 million children, most of whom have never had access to an education.

Image of Pakistani girl searching through rubbish

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