Pakistan's 2024-25 Budget Allocated Nothing for Religious Minorities

Pakistan's 2024-25 Budget Allocated Nothing for Religious Minorities

In a move that has sparked criticism and concern, Pakistan's recently unveiled federal budget for 2024-25 has completely omitted any allocation for the welfare of religious minority communities. This decision marks a stark departure from the previous year's budget, which had allocated 100 million Pakistani rupees (approximately $350,000 USD) for this purpose.

The lack of funding has raised alarms among minority leaders, who have expressed disappointment and frustration with the government's apparent disregard for the needs of Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and other religious minorities, who collectively make up less than 5% of the country's population.

Budget Priorities and Concerns​

The 2024-25 budget, totaling 18.87 trillion rupees ($68 billion USD), prioritizes defense spending, with a 17% increase compared to the previous year. However, the complete absence of any allocation for minority welfare has been met with condemnation from minority leaders and human rights advocates.

The budget does include an increased allocation of 1,861 million rupees for the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, primarily to cover the expenses of Hajj pilgrims traveling to Mecca. Yet, the absence of funds specifically earmarked for the welfare of religious minorities raises questions about the government's commitment to inclusivity and equal treatment for all its citizens.

Impact on Minority Communities​

Minority leaders have emphasized the potential negative impact of this decision on vulnerable communities, particularly students who rely on scholarships and financial support for educational and religious purposes.

The lack of government funding could exacerbate existing challenges faced by religious minorities, including limited access to education and employment opportunities.

Historical Context and Advocacy​

Pakistan has a history of establishing and dismantling ministries dedicated to minority affairs, reflecting the complex and often contentious relationship between the state and its religious minorities. While the constitution guarantees equal rights for all citizens regardless of religion, minority communities continue to face discrimination and marginalization.

Minority leaders and human rights organizations are calling on the government to reconsider its decision and reinstate funding for the welfare of religious minorities. They argue that such support is crucial for promoting social cohesion, protecting the rights of minorities, and ensuring their full participation in Pakistani society.

Additional Information​

According to open-source data, the literacy rate among religious minorities in Pakistan is significantly lower than the national average, with only 34% of Christians being literate and even fewer pursuing university education. This disparity underscores the importance of targeted support for educational initiatives within minority communities.

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