The final stop: Living as a minority and beyond

Christian graveyards paint a gloomy picture of equal rights.



ISLAMABAD:


Minorities in the land of green continue to face discrimination, even after death, as the capital’s Christian graveyards in sectors H-9/2 and H-9/3 stand in shambles --- overlooked by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) which is responsible for their maintenance.


The graveyards were established by the civic agency in the 1980s and 2000 to facilitate the Christian community. But the authority, since then, has failed to maintain the graveyards which are not kept as the graveyards for Muslims in the area close by.



The civic agency has failed to maintain the graveyards of minorities which are not tended to as the graveyards for Muslims in the vicinity. PHOTOS: HUMA CHOUDHARY/EXPRESS



The Sector H-9/2 graveyard — spread over two acres — has a capacity of 2,000 graves but the community continues to suffer because of the unavailability of electricity and water in the facility. “How is it possible to perform burials in the current circumstances where there is no electricity and water,” questioned Arif Masih, a resident of Sector F-6, while waiting for his relative’s burial.

“I have submitted two applications in this regard to the CDA chairman requesting him to look into the matter but nothing has been done so far,” he complained.

Conditions of the second graveyard too, are not much different. The Sector H-9/3 graveyard is spread over six acres and has the capacity of 4,000 graves.

Christians question as to why their cemeteries are overlooked while Muslim graveyards in the close by sectors are properly kempt and have sufficient staff deployed for their maintenance. Despite being one of the oldest graveyards, the H-8/2 cemetery does not have a boundary wall leaving it open for animals who can enter and vandalise at will.

Pastor of Fatima Church in Sector F-8/4, Reverend Father Yousaf Amanat, expressed anger as to why the authority seemed least moved or concerned by the condition of the graveyards. “Why has the authority ignored our graveyards despite us being equal citizens of the country,” he questioned.

He argued that if the CDA could depute dozens of staffers for the Muslim graveyards why their cemeteries were treated differently.



The civic agency has failed to maintain the graveyards of minorities which are not tended to as the graveyards for Muslims in the vicinity. PHOTOS: HUMA CHOUDHARY/EXPRESS



Ashraf Bhatti, a pastor of Catholic Church G-7/2, has similar complains. “The irony is that one would only find two grave diggers in graveyards which is far fewer than what should be,” he said, adding that at times families have to wait long hours for their loved ones due to the unavailability of grave diggers.

According to Bhatti, the graveyards lack basic cleanliness with open drains running through them. “Our graveyards are as sacred as those of Muslims and are the responsibility of CDA,” he insisted.

When contacted, CDA director graveyards Abdul Razak blamed the recent spell of rains to have caused the havoc in the graveyards and that his staff would soon start cleaning them.

In regards to the shortage of staff, Razak claimed that there was currently a shortage of staffers and they were looking for people to fill the vacant posts.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2014.

COMMENTS (1)

Hozur | 6 years ago | Reply

Do not die in Pakistan and go to another country if you have to live or die.

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