Thousands of Christians have fled Pakistan in order to seek asylum in other countries, to escape the persecution and obtain a better future for their children. But why the countries like USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Europe are always their first choice? If they are just trying to escape the misery and are in search of a safe haven where their rights are protected and they can live peacefully then why not opt for other less rich countries? Do the Pakistani refugees actually look for refuge or are just trying to satisfy their economic interests?
Many people might have pondered on this question but must have been too afraid to voice it, fearing to arouse unwanted criticism. However, it is still unavoidable. When I see the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers holding banners in their hands with the content “USA, Canada, Holland, help us”, I am compelled to think that why don’t they ask the less rich countries for help which will easily embrace them? Countries like Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Mexico, Namibia, Panama, Philippines, Russia, South Africa and many others, are all Christian majority countries. They have signed the 1951 Geneva Convention of Refugees, and above all these countries are not war torn but there is peace and harmony. So why don’t the refugees pick these countries?
Honestly, one of the major reasons behind this is the lack of education and awareness that leads them to ignore these important countries. Most of the Pakistani Christians might have never even heard the names of countries like Bolivia, Panama, Belarus, Ecuador etc. If you ever get to talk to a refugee you can ask them if they knew what the Geneva Convention of Refugees is. I can assure you that the majority would be clueless and to know which countries signed the pact, that is completely out of question.
The reason why they mostly opt for Canada, USA, Australia or Holland must be because some of their relatives might already be living in one of those countries and it is always good to be surrounded by people you know. It helps reduce your struggle and if not help financially they can always guide you to choose the right options. Other than that, only a person in need might understand how it feels to have someone you know sit next to you in a place where you know no one else. It helps strengthen you and make you feel like more at home. “Home” that is what they are in search of, not rich countries or white faces… just home.
Having to learn a new language only adds to their problems. This might not be too difficult for the young generation but becomes very difficult for the working class and so they would more likely opt for countries where English is commonly spoken. The third reason is that mostly they were told that only rich countries named above accept refugees. But there is always another side to the story so some of the refugees must be choosing rich countries for their own economic benefits; however, those are only some among the huge numbers of migrants.
Whatever their reasons are, they need to be told and made aware of the bigger picture and the wide range of options they have. Countries in Africa or Latin America might not sound so friendly but they would be glad to embrace them. The choice of migrating desperately towards the west puts their asylum claims on lack of credibility.
I strongly believe that Pakistani Christian Asylum seekers must change their strategy for the betterment of their families and prove to the world that they are not economic migrants but genuine refugees who are willing to live in any safe country where they can live with respect and dignity. Don’t give a chance to people to doubt your intentions.
Buenos Aires – Argentina