Will the Islamophobia never end? “Pakistani Christian Villagers Forced to Pay Muslim Cleric to Get Drinking Water,” by Ashfaq Fateh for ASSIST News Service, April 26 (thanks to Twostellas):
TOBA TEK SINGH, PAKISTAN (ANS) — Scientists say that “a man or woman cannot live without air, water and food,” as these three elements play a vital role in human life.
Most countries ensure the fundamental rights to its citizens to ensure the availability of all these three elements. Citizens pay taxes to get pure drinking water and other facilities.
However, the story of Christians living in village #700/42, Pirkadiayana, Tehsil Kamalia, District, Toba Tek Singh, Punjab, Pakistan, is a different one where their supply of water was on the condition that they not only had to pay the required water tax and also pay a Muslim cleric of a mosque in the village.
In Pakistan, municipal corporations (MC) supply drinking water through their water supply schemes. Underground pipelines have been laid and a citizen applies for the connection and government then connects the house with a water supply, thus the citizen gets drinking water. The bill is collected annually.
In villages and remote areas, the government in installs the water supply system and then asks locals to form their management committees to run the system and develop their own system of collection, time table, repairs, payment of electricity bills and issuing connections. The committees run the system and try to provide water connections without any religious discrimination.
Now ASSIST News Service-Pakistan has come to know about the story of this village where poor Christians have been forced to pay water tax as well to the local Muslim cleric.
ANS-Pakistan decided to highlight this story which shows the miseries faced by Christians and an example of their unity and faith to work together despite the challenges.
The 244 Christian families of Pirkadiayana village paid extra charges to a Muslim cleric from the local Mosque from 1997-2009 to get drinking water.
A local Christian, Aslam Masih, told ANS-Pakistan: “In 1997, Pir Ali Raza Shah, a member of the Punjab Assembly provided funds for the water supply scheme for the village, and the Muslims formed the management committee and did not include any Christian from the village.
“The management committee invited applications for water connections. One hundred thirty-five connections were provided to Christians of the village. The committee decided to charge Rs. 140 from each connection-holder, Rs. 110 per month for water tax and Rs. 30 for a Muslim cleric of the local mosque. The Christian elders protested against paying illegal tax to Muslim priest but the committee threatened to exclude them from water supply scheme for nonpayment to the Muslim leader.”
Another Christian, Arshid Sadiq, said: “We were forced to accept the demands of the management committee as they were powerful and if we refused to pay, our women and children had to fetch drinking water from miles away and our most of the time was spent in this exercise. Therefore, there was no alternative.”
Jamil Masih, another believer, stated: “For almost 10 years the system remained smooth and Christians were supplied enough water. However, since 2007 the energy crises hit Pakistan and prolonged power outages become common, the management committee started discrimination with Christian connection holders.
“When the electricity restores for one or two hours out of 24 hours, the committee supplied water to Muslim connection holders only. The Christian connection holders remained without water for days. The Christians protested against acute shortage of water but no avail.”
Nazir Sadiq said: “In 2009 during worst energy crises, the committee crossed all bounds and supplied water for six to seven days a month and charged full water tax and tax for Muslim priest. The Christian connection holder protested against this, the committee chairman rather threatened the committee shall stop water supply to Christians even he asked Christian connection-holders to pay more water tax.”