Kamran Chaudhry, Lahore
Updated: September 10, 2021 09:25 AM GMT
Caritas Pakistan executive director Amjad Gulzar (center) addresses female entrepreneurs in Karachi on Sept. 6. (Photo: Mansha Noor)
Caritas Pakistan Karachi has inaugurated a skills development center to encourage Christian entrepreneurs in the seaport city.
Sixty youths began classes in the diocesan unit after the Sept. 6 inauguration in collaboration with the Divine Hope Foundation, a Catholic youth group.
The institute offers training in subjects including fashion design, tailoring, computers and English language.
Certificates will be issued to those candidates who pass final tests after undergoing the free three-month courses.
“More than 100 applications were received but only 20 youngsters were selected for each course to avoid gathering amid the fourth wave of coronavirus. Most of the students learning tailoring are illiterate,” Mansha Noor, executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan Karachi, told UCA News.
“Their products will be shared on social media groups. We are developing a women entrepreneurs’ group through education and capacity building. Unemployment and alcohol/drug addiction remain major concerns among local Christian youths. The skills will help them survive in the private sector. Very few avail job opportunities in government departments plagued by nepotism.”
Church leaders say discriminatory treatment is routinely meted out to Christians, who face a lack of employment opportunities and poor access to education
Christians make up 2 percent of Pakistan's population of 220 million. Most languish at the bottom of the social ladder. Largely uneducated, they work as street sweepers, trash collectors, farmhands and other menial laborers.
According to a study by the Pakistan Partnership Initiative, a Christian organization based in Islamabad, 70 percent of Christians, particularly daily-wagers and laborers, lost their jobs or reported reduced income during the nationwide lockdown last year.
Church leaders say discriminatory treatment is routinely meted out to Christians, who face a lack of employment opportunities and poor access to education despite their contributions to defense and welfare. Government and army advertisements often offer only menial employment to Christians — for example, sanitation jobs — a stance that horrifies the minority community.
Shahbaz Bhatti, the Catholic federal minister for minorities who was assassinated in March 2011, was central to securing a 5 percent quota for religious minorities in government jobs, four seats in the Senate and a national day to commemorate minorities in Pakistan.
However, critics say the rule is rarely enforced. Even when it is, reserved jobs are often found only in sectors such as sanitary work not seen as desirable by mainstream society. Both provincial governments and security departments often publish job advertisements that invite applications from non-Muslims for a sanitation post
In July, a group of Christian youths complained to Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar after being turned down by the police department because of their religion.