The report containing the evidence of the Church of Pakistan and the Anglican Alliance has been submitted to the UK Parliament’s International Development Select Committee in response to their inquiry into the effectiveness of UK aid in Pakistan – Pakistan will become the biggest receipient of UK aid.
The report says: “Christians are the largest religious minority in Pakistan and have a long established role in providing basic services, including quality education and healthcare. Christian institutions are inclusive and usually serve the majority Muslim population as well as local Christians. This is most notably the case with schools, where the Church is recognised as delivering good quality affordable schools which are vastly oversubscribed. The church delivers these development gains despite the difficulties that Christians face because of their minority status, including discrimination in accessing services and fear of religious persecution and violence.”
The main recommenations of the report are:
- Greater recognition should be given to the importance of Church schools in Pakistan, especially in rural areas.
- Teacher training by the Church of Pakistan should get DFID support.
- More support should go to the important role of lady health workers, and donors should recognise the role of the Church in helping to break down social barriers to family planning.
- More engagement is needed with young people – the Church voiced concern of input of young people in development programmes.
- More attention needed to go to maintaining energy supplies – unreliable energy was a major barrier to economic development, especially for smallscale entrepreneurs.
- Development work should seek to improve community relations, and recognition should be given to the role of the Church of Pakistan in serving people from all social, religious and ethnic groups. It says that programmes that do not make it an objective to improve community relations are “a missed opportunity”
The report sets out the scale of the Church’s health and education services, covering rural and urban areas, and running “Robin Hood” schools which use fees from more affluent areas to provide free education in the poorest communities.
It also set out the role of the Church in working with other faiths to moderate the impact of the Blasphemy laws.
The submission by the Church of Pakistan and the Anglican Alliance will be considered by the International Development Select Committee which scrutinises the UK Government’s aid programmes and policies. The Committee will take oral evidence, and produce a report setting out its conclusions. The UK Government is obliged to respond to the report, but is not obliged to implement its recommendations. However, this provides an important opportunity to highlight the role of the Church of Pakistan, especially in providing health and education services.
You can read the full submission made by the Anglican Alliance and Church of Pakistan, and see all the written evidence to the International Development Select Committee.