As scores of children die of hunger in the desserts of the southern province of Sindh, scientists in Pakistan are saying the insatiable appetite of the rest of the country could be satisfied with the flesh and blood of the citizens who belong to minority faiths.

“With about 40 million Shias and about 3 million members of minority communities still alive in the country, we don’t see why any region of Pakistan should suffer from a food shortage,” said a scientist who is supervising a cutting edge research at a university in the capital Islamabad.

According to the research, Shias constitute about 25 percent of Pakistan’s population, and citizens belonging to minority religions are about three percent. “An average member of a minority faith in Pakistan weighs about 70kg, of which around 20kg is skin and bones,” the scientist explains. “Assuming an average body-fat ratio, one kilogram of human meat contains more than 2000 calories. That means the body of an average citizen belonging to a minority religion or belief has about 100,000 calories.”

If a regular Pakistani needs to consume 2,000 calories a day, one such body can sustain 50,000 regular Pakistanis a day. “In short, at the rate with which they are dying, there is no reason for any part of this country to suffer a food shortage.

“We are not suggesting that non-Muslims or Shias should be killed,” the spokesman of the project clarified while talking to reporters in a press conference. “We are only saying that since they are making such huge sacrifices for the country, we only want to ensure that they are acknowledged and remembered.”

He said he was aware of the political consequences of the proposal, but added that his group believed the issue should not be politicized. “Pakistan is facing a myriad of challenges and we must unite to face them together,” he said. “This is not a time for political point scoring.”

But some analysts are wary of the proposal. “The number of people being killed is much more than is needed to sustain the country,” one critic said in a private interview. “At this rate, we will run out of minorities in several parts of Pakistan, and even Shias in Quetta.”

Another analyst has different fears. “There is a strong possibility that the state will get carried away with exploiting this resource,” he says. “There is a significant danger that we might end up with no minorities to consume.” Pakistan must use its resources wisely, he said, suggesting measures should be taken to ensure that the people of minority faiths continue to live healthy lives. “Our organization has proposed creating minority sanctuaries – bubbles in the society within which there is no discrimination based on beliefs, and where they can live their lives in a seemingly normal way. We could then continue to target and kill some of them every now and then, in a manner that is both sustainable and practical.” He expressed concern that if the supply dwindles, the free market will begin to deem Barelvis fair game.

Non-Muslims and Shias are conventionally targeted in three ways in Pakistan – gun attacks, suicide bombings, and beheadings. The scientists in Islamabad say drive-by gun attacks were occasionally useful, but could not be depended on because there was no way to collect the dead bodies. Opinion is divided in the capital about suicide attacks, with critics saying it was not sustainable to employ scavengers to collect body parts.  “Beheadings allow for easy dismemberment after the killing, and should be the preferable way of killing not just minorities, but paramilitary soldiers, reporters, and other rivals as well,” said a scientist who asked not to be named.

To a question, the researcher said they did consider the fact that many Pakistani citizens might not be ready to consume their fellow citizens. “But that is a minor problem, which can be resolved by propagating appetizing literature, videos and sermons.”

 The author has a degree in Poetics of Prophetic Discourse and works as a Senior Paradigm Officer.

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