Pakistan: Christian village deliberately flooded

Pakistan flood survivors (pic: CAFOD)

Pakistan flood survivors (pic: CAFOD)

NGOs in Pakistan report that a dam to save land has diverted floodwater towards areas inhabited by Christians. In Punjab, near Multan, inhabitants of the Christian village of Khokharabad  near Muzaffargarh, a city of 250,000 inhabitants, in the southern Punjab Province, central Pakistan, suffered severe damage from deliberately diverted water. Many villagers drowned and homes and crops were washed away in the deluge which engulfed  the village.

Most of the villagers were poor people surviving by subsistence farming.

According to information sent to Fides by some local NGOs operating in the area, the flooding in this case was "guided" by Jamshed Dasti, a local politician of Muzaffargarh and owner of parcels of land near the village. He oversaw the construction of dams and barriers to divert the flow of water to the village and thus save his own possessions.

The inhabitants of Khokharabad were not notified and had no time to escape: the entire village was wiped out. At least 15 are dead and 377 Christians left homeless.

Taj Masih, one of the leaders of the village, said: "It is an inhumane act. Our village was flooded on purpose. Dasti, just to save his own land preferred to leave 377 people without home or harvest, our only source of livelihood. Now we have nothing."

Dasti has denied any responsibility in the incident, saying that the decision to raise barriers was made by the Department of Agriculture in the District. Department officials, in turn, say they have received orders to do so. The Governor of the District denies having given such orders. Everyone is quick to find a scapegoat, but the fact remains: it has taken place at the expense of Christian citizens.

Source: Fides

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