Pakistan’s social development: the Christians’ role

By Amna Pathan
Guest Contribution

imgWe are all aware of how much the Christian community has done for Pakistan. It has established schools such as ours – the St Joseph’s Convent — all over the country. Hospitals, orphanages, trust funds, even entire villages were founded by the Christians as early as the late nineteenth century.

The Church of England established the Karachi Grammar School in 1847. Thomas French, the first bishop of Lahore, founded the Agra College in 1853. Three years later, The Convent of Jesus and Mary was set up in Sialkot.  In 1861 the St. Patrick’s High School and in 1862 the St. Joseph’s Convent School were established. These were the first of many schools and universities set up by the Christians, who, for the last 160 years have been educating people all over Pakistan. Their students, have in turn, grown up to educate others and spread their teachings. These missionary schools have moulded lives, and that in turn have shaped our country’s history and its future.

guest-contributorWomen’s empowerment in Pakistan is a goal that the Christian community has helped us work towards. Girls’ schools have been established all over Pakistan, and in 1965 the Daughters of the Cross established a Home Economics School in Sialkot. In 1852, a medical mission was started to promote women’s health and education.

Many other medical missions were launched, such as Dr Jack Anderson’s mobile hospital in 1960. It was made up of trailers and make-shift dispensaries. He moved every three to five years to far-flung areas of Hyderabad and the interior Sindh, where medical facilities were rudimentary at best. The Holy Family Hospital was established in 1928, and later converted into a Nursing School to help spread medical education in Pakistan. The St Theresa Nursing Home was established. Belgian nurses visited Christian hospitals in Pakistan to help treat patients, and train doctors and nurses.

The Christians first established orphanages in Lahore in 1892 and ‘93. In 1897 they set up a school for orphans in Rawalpindi. Since then, they have set up countless orphanages all over Pakistan, and helped to improve lives. Towards the end of the 19th century, orphans in Rawalpindi were relocated to Yusufpur. In two years alone, 118 orphans were relocated, provided for and educated. In 1904, an entire village, called Francisabad was founded to house famine-stricken orphans.

The Christians have also developed housing and educational trusts, providence homes, and numerous charity organisations. Their welfare organisations include the Dar-ul-Sukun, a home for children with  mental and physical disabilities, Marie Adelaide’s leprosy centre, and the Ida Rieu School for the blind, deaf and dumb, in Karachi

As a minority, the Christians make up only 1.6% of Pakistan’s population, and yet, they have done so much for their country. At SJC, we’ve all witnessed first-hand how much time and effort the nuns dedicate to education and social welfare.

A witness at the All-Saints Church on the day of the blast demanded that the Christians be recognised as Pakistani, and as equal citizens to the Muslims. Though they may be a religious minority, the Christians are an integral part of Pakistan and their contributions depict their love for Pakistan, and their dedication to our country. Whether Christian or Muslim, we are all Pakistani. Our destinies are fused together by this land.

Over eighty people died in the blast on the 22 September. One of the victims was a twenty-year old medical student, Noel Williams. His friend, Meraj Aleem, said: “He was a passionate student and more so a youngster who wanted to work for the betterment of his country.”

Perhaps, that is the saddest of all. The loss of potential, of the youth, and of Pakistanis who wanted to make our country a better place. We must now join together to allow people like Noel to live on through us, by making Pakistan a better place. We must strive, as the Christian community has done for almost two centuries, to spread education, awareness, health and love. Thank you.

St Joseph’s Convent School
4 October 2013

9 thoughts on “Pakistan’s social development: the Christians’ role”

  1. @Amna Pathan!

    Hope your wise message would prevail over and the entire society will continue to benefit from the GREEN efforts of minority.
    You have given the details of Educational Institutes established by the minorities and to give/spread education is the best work that a man can do.

    You have also given a very clear and strong message that PREFER QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. Just imagine the quantum of contribution by this Minority if they would have been 16% of the total population.

  2. Good idea to recognize contributions to education and health by the Christian Pakistanis. What a shame that so many in Pakistan refuse to give due credit and equal rights to the "people of the book" to live in Pakistan and say that it is OK to murder innocents.

  3. Dear Amna,
    No evidence is needed to establish the fact that the Christian minority has benefited their country enormously.

    As for the countries where the Christians constitute the majority you only look around to see how much they have contributed to their own country’s development. That has benefited us also.

    Even here we know that our fields are watered by the great canal system. These were the gifts of the Christian intellect.

    But on the other hand we also know the guns and the explosives used all over the world were not invented or developed by other than Christians.

    I am not arguing that everything we use is of Christian or Jewish industry. You can not discount the scientific and industrial efforts of Christians.
    We still largely depend on foreign aid, medicine the medical and defence equipment coming from the Christian countries.
    Only a few days since we went to the IMF with a begging bowl to ask for money, without which our lives were impossible. Whose money was it ?
    As decent human beings, it will be civilised behaviour at least to say thank you. And thank you for writing this

    Killing other human beings is no part of Islam or any other decent civilisation.

    I hope it opens the eyes of all those who are thoughtless and ungrateful. Besides living in peace and harmony make you a better human being.
    Shafiq
    The least that we can as a decent human beings can say thank you.

  4. Dear Amna,
    Congraulations , well written . Thank you for appreciating the work the community does for the country.

  5. Its good to raise awareness regarding the rights of minority communities in a country where bad elements push polarization. All Pakistanis are Pakistanis regardless of any ones' personal faith and religion – the South Asia ethos shows that for time immemorial before the modern colonial period all kinds of people with diverse languages, faiths and cultural practices lived and contributed to the civilizations and culture. Why should we believe the narrow view hidden agenda groups that today advocate going away from this historical method of development. Many such ideas began with the onset of colonialism where martial races and other such divisive policies were pursued to establish and perpetuate colonial rule. So true freedom of sprit & self means we discard colonial practices in favor of our traditional and tested policies that valued people and their contributions no matter whether they were Muslims (Sunni, Shia, ismali, Bhora…), Christians, Hindus or Buddhists – they are all Pakistanis.

  6. On days when I sit here in California despairing over the headlines, I will remind myself that there are young Muslim teens like Amna Pathan in Karachi who are doing their part to stay the tide of intolerance, injustice, and violence that seems to have swept over the country. While Pakistan's colonial legacy is undeniably fraught and complex, we can't go confusing what the British did and didn't do with the identity of Pakistanis who happen to be Christian–Pakistanis, who, as Amna demonstrates so eloquently, continue to make significant contributions to Pakistani society. Amna, write on, and may other young people follow your example.

  7. Dear Amna,

    Congratulations! You have done a wonderful job in listing the remarkable contributions of the Christian Community for the betterment of this society. General public should be made aware of how much has been done in the fields of health and education by this community in order to make them realize and appreciate these achievements.
    It is heart-rending to see such blood-shed of innocent church-going people. I pray these mindless culprits should be brought to task with immediate action for everyone's safety. It's a shame that against our massive population, this brutal lot is very few, yet we are unable to eliminate them for good.

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