Faras Ghani of Al Jazeera has produced a powerful report about the 4.5 million people- many of them children, and many from Dalit and Christian minorities- forced to work in Pakistan’s 20,000 brick kilns.
The Global Slavery Index estimates there were almost 25 million people trapped in forced labour with Pakistan – with 3.1 million- eighth on the list.
70 percent of bonded labourers in Pakistan are children – over one-third of the four million or so people working at brick kilns in Pakistan.
Often, they work all day and are denied education. Ghani tells the story of eleven -year-old Qaiser Dad. After his father fell ill Qaiser had to give up on school and work on the kiln. He begins work at sunrise and does not stop until 8pm.
Pakistan ‘s Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports a high mortality rate among children working at brick kilns while about one in 20 families living on brick kilns have children who have lost their eyesight.
Children are kept as hostages in the event of the parents leaving the kiln, even for a short period.
Al Jazeera are to be congratulated for shining a light into a dark place. Other broadcasters should follow suit:
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL233):
Questionby Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to provide training for Pakistani minority groups and non-governmental organisations on how to (1) organise, campaign and lobby for their rights, and (2) respond to the shrinking of civil society space in Pakistan; and how the persecution of Ahmadi and Christian minorities was raised during the visit to Pakistan by HRH the Duke of Cambridge. (HL233)
Tabled on: 21 October 2019
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:
The British Government provides training, workshops and seminars on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Pakistan, including to representatives of minority groups. These aim to increase awareness of rights and constitutional safeguards, and to strengthen connections between minority communities and local media. The British Government continues to support civil society and non-governmental organisations lobbying the Government of Pakistan to honour its international commitments. Department for International Development will work with local civil society organisations to promote respect, tolerance and inclusion of minorities and marginalised groups through its AAWAZ II programme.
While in Pakistan, Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge discussed interfaith harmony with faith leaders from across Pakistan’s various religious communities, including Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Shia and Sunni. Discussions focused on the challenges and opportunities present in promoting interfaith relations in Pakistan, as well as how faith representatives can work together to build acceptance and tolerance in Pakistani society. They also spent time with members of the Kalash community in the Bumburet Valley of Chitral.
Date and time of answer: 04 Nov 2019 at 16:33.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL540):
Question Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports of an attack by authorities in Punjab which destroyed part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque in Hasilpur; and what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan to end discrimination and persecution of Ahmadis. (HL540)
Tabled on: 30 October 2019
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:
We are concerned about the reports of the damage to the Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque in Hasilpur, Punjab, Pakistan.
We regularly raise our concerns about reports of discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan, including the Ahmadis, with the Pakistani Government at a senior level. The previous Foreign Secretary discussed the treatment of minority religious communities with Foreign Minister Qureshi during his visit to the UK in June. The UK strongly condemns the persecution of all minorities, including the targeting of innocent people based on their beliefs. The British Government continues to urge Pakistan to honour its human rights obligations, including those related to religious minorities, and to uphold the rule of law.
Date and time of answer: 05 Nov 2019 at 16:30