You are no doubt aware of the meaning of the word “ghetto”. This is a despicable word that describes the marginalized conditions of the Jews in Europe through the centuries; Poland, UK, France, Germany, Slovakia, Spain, Italy, and any number of European states that treated the Jews terribly. We know that one of them tried to exterminate all of them.

A ghetto essentially means that the people living inside of it are not part of the mainstream of the country that they are in, nor economically, or politically. They simply keep wasting away.

I am witness to this dreadful development in Islamabad where the Christian community, consisting of young and old, live a life as though they are dogs who are given crumbs to eat and are expected to bow down and sing the praises of those who go by in limousines which would be a sin to sit in, given the poverty of the country.

Inter faith harmony and the sacred colour of white in the national flag, should automatically energise us into visiting the place and taking stock of the criminal indifference we show as people of this country. We treat our Christian brothers as pariahs of society no doubt because we feel that we Muslims are the purest of the pure.

With the mega scandals that take place day after day and without anybody being punished, let there be no doubt that you and I are as much under trial as anybody else –unless of course we also think that we have a one way ticket to Paradise.

Do we know where this “ghetto” is? Right behind the Jinnah Super Market on Street 54, F-7. This is located on one acre of land housing over a thousand families bunched up and rammed together as cockroaches with hardly a breathing space for the young or old.

There is no point in trying to describe the living conditions in the ghetto, but suffice it to know that the construction and accommodation visible consists of pigeon holes built one on top of the other topped by a blue coloured water tank.

As a Pakistani I feel I have betrayed the Christian community for not having done anything to better their lot and this is a stark reminder of our failure to protect the basic human rights of this community living with us.

In the pigeon holes that these fellow Pakistanis live, what is their condition in the heat of the summer and what about the cold winter? In this dreadfully unhygienic acre of land, what about typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, dengue and polio in this area? When was the last time a Health Inspector visited the place, and did he visit the place at all? Do you know Mr. Minister?

Is it not known to the government that the bridge over the nuflah’ adjacent to the ghetto is where the youth of this ghetto get together every night and have their drugs after dark? These drug users are our youth whom we m be inadvertently destroying; the very spirit of our country.

The ghetto is a national disgrace. No wonder the Muslim comes under greater scrutiny outside of Pakistan because of our own neglect here.

Shame is the only appropriate word that can be used here in this dreadful condition that Pakistanis find themselves in.

The worst was yet to come. While driving around at about 11 am in the same area, my companion informs me that the area under the bridge we had just passed (very close to the ghetto) was home to a number of addicts who assembled there every evening in great numbers. He said he would show me.

That evening under the bridge I saw first-hand, a number of young men wasting away their souls with drugs in an area choked with plastic bags. I began to wonder where the local Bishop of the area was. What about the Anti-Narcotics Force?

What was going to be their earning power in the years to come? Or, were they going to be waiters and boys in private restaurants or even bootlegging for the rich and powerful? Or, even taxi drivers of the small tin boxes that they have managed to get for themselves over the years.

There are hundreds and thousands of young Muslim men who are in the same predicament but they do not live in ghettos – and that is the point. Our wilful neglect is indictment enough for indifference and our persecution of this brother minority in Islamabad. Then we wonder why Pakistan is in a mess.

Almighty Allah states “Persecution is worse than slaughter” — and it is.

What is needed is a billion rupee programme to give them a new living environment with education facilities for the young to give them the element of hope. Their lives must be raised enough to make them feel that they are equals amongst equals on their way to be lawyers, doctors, IT specialists and bankers. Can we make that our objective?

There are hundreds and thousands of young Muslim men who are in the same predicament but they do not live in ghettos – and that is the point.