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APPG calls for more help for Pakistani minorities

22 June 2018

MORRIS JOHNS

Anser Javed, of Starfish Pakistan, an NGO that helps 7000 young Christians from the poorest families to go to school, speaks to the APPG on Pakistani Minorities about his experiences of poverty, this month

Anser Javed, of Starfish Pakistan, an NGO that helps 7000 young Christians from the poorest families to go to school, speaks to the APPG on Pakistani ...

THE All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pakistani Minorities has called on the Department for International Development to ensure that UK aid is used to stop the publication of textbooks that contain hate material against minorities.

The resolution was passed at its meeting a fortnight ago, at which the group considered the education crisis that faces minorities in Pakistan.

Jim Shannon, the DUP MP who chairs the Group, said that “these vulnerable and marginalised communities” should not be “ignored by the Pakistani and British governments”.

The APPG also called on the Pakistani government and international agencies to make helping the minority population in Pakistan a priority. “Poverty, prejudice, and social unease are depriving a generation of young people from taking their proper place in Pakistan’s future because of the poor access to good education,” Mr Shannon said.

“We need to ensure that these vulnerable and marginalised communities are not ignored by the Pakistani and British governments, and [that] a part of billions of pounds of the UK taxpayers’ aid sent to Pakistan through the Department for International Development [DfID], is used to ensure that students from the religious minorities are not left behind on the path to development.”

In response, a spokesman for DfID said last week: “The UK Government does not fund the production of textbooks in Pakistan, and we strongly condemn all forms of incitement to violence. UK aid is supporting provincial governments to improve school curriculums, and promotes values of inclusion, diversity, and religious tolerance.

“In a country where two-thirds of women cannot read or write, our support is crucial to giving the most vulnerable the skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty, and we have helped educate nine million primary-school children since 2011. A more prosperous and inclusive country will improve stability and security in Pakistan and the UK — which is firmly in our national interests.”

While the number of out-of-school children has fallen in recent years, 22.6 million of those aged five to 16 remain out of education in Pakistan.

In May, concern was raised over a new law that makes the teaching of the Qur’an compulsory in schools in Punjab province (News, 11 May).

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