Coronavirus News Asia

An unhappy Easter for Pakistan’s Christians

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Days after the coronavirus crisis took hold in Pakistan, Aamir Gill, a cleaner and member of the country’s Christian underclass, was fired with no warning or severance by the wealthy family he had helped look after.

Many other Christians – who live a hand-to-mouth existence in the Islamic country – have also been laid off and, with little access to government help, are wondering how they will survive.

“We were already untouchables and now due to corona, rich people think the poor might bring it into their homes,” Gill told AFP ahead of an uncertain Easter.

Along with two other servants, he worked at a large house in the capital – mostly to clean up after parties.

“I have no idea how many bedrooms it had but it was big,” explained Gill, who lives in Islamabad’s Christian slums in a cramped one-room home with his family of four.

“My kids asked me for new Easter dresses and shoes but I have told them we are not going to have Easter this year.”

Christians – who comprise roughly 2% of the population – occupy one of the lowest rungs in class-obsessed Pakistan. 

Most work menial jobs without contracts as street sweepers, cleaners and cooks and live in crowded, multi-generational households where social distancing is all but impossible.

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