Kamran Chaudhry, Lahore
Updated: August 31, 2021 08:52 AM GMT
Taliban fighters near Zanbaq Square in Kabul on Aug. 16 after a stunningly swift takeover of Afghanistan's capital. (Photo: AFP)
Christian activists in Pakistan are urging the international community to save minority communities in Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of US forces.
“There has been no statement on non-Muslim Afghans. We condemn dual standards on vulnerable groups. The West seems to use human rights as a political agenda. They highlight minority persecution in targeted countries alone,” Sabir Michael, a human rights activist and professor at the University of Karachi, told UCA News.
“We are not sure about the status of religious minorities now under Taliban control. Are they equal citizens or paying jizya [a tax on non-Muslims]? What about those left physically handicapped in the war?”
Christians in Afghanistan number 10,000 to 12,000. Most are converts from Islam. For decades they have largely practiced their faith underground as conversion is considered a crime punishable by death under Sharia law.
According to Pastor Irfan James, who visited the Shahr-e Naw neighborhood in Kabul last December, most Christians have fled Afghanistan's main cities. Since 2015, the missionary has been evangelizing in Jalalabad, the Afghan city that lies less than 200 kilometers from Kurram, his hometown in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“I do not see any international concern for them. They have been rejected. The new government is known for breaking its promises and agreements. Religious minorities are not safe anymore,” he said.
According to conservative political commentator Glenn Beck, the Nazarene Fund has flown 5,100 Christians and other refugees out of Afghanistan since it fell to the Taliban this month. He claimed Afghan Christians were among the scores killed in the suicide bomb attack that ripped through the crowd just outside one of Kabul airport’s gates last week.
Former US Congressman Mark Walker has alleged that a Christian Afghan was skinned alive and hanged from a pole by the Taliban on Aug. 7.
Balpreet Singh, legal counsel and spokesperson for the World Sikh Organization, estimates that fewer than 200 Sikhs are left in Afghanistan.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.