04/21/2020, 15.12
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Coronavirus: Lahore, a small restaurateur feeds 300 people a day

by Shafique Khokhar

Raja Walter gives free food to those who need it, irrespective of faith and ethnicity. The pandemic has worsened the problem of malnutrition in the country. The Christian businessman’s example is used to promote social and religious harmony during the anti-COVID-19 fight.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Raja Walter feeds 300 people a day in Youhanabad, a predominantly Christian area in Lahore. All are suffering from the effects of the coronavirus.

Raja, a small Christian restaurateur, provides food to anyone who needs it, regardless of their faith or ethnicity.

Recent acts of hatred and prejudice against Pakistan’s Christian minority at this time of crisis had a deep effect on him, prompting him to help others.

According to him, "love for humanity must prevail in Pakistan" at a time when more and more people are being infected.

So far, 8,418 COVID-19 cases have been reported with 176 deaths. In order to contain the outbreak, the government has imposed strict measures to isolate the people.

The lockdown has interrupted most economic activities, worsening the already serious problem of malnutrition among many Pakistanis.

According to the 2018 National Nutrition Survey, 33 per cent of minors are underweight and 50 per cent suffer from malnutrition.

“Without Raja's work of charity, I would not be able to feed my children," said Snober Ashiq, a mother forced every day to look for food to survive.

The Christian businessman, who is helped by his brother who lives and works in Sweden, makes no distinctions. If he sees Muslim families queuing up to eat, he offers them a table in his small eatery.

Shanila Ruth, a member of the National Assembly with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice), the party of Prime Minister Imran Khan, went to Raja's diner yesterday, to congratulate him for his great humanitarian effort.

Fr Francis Nadeem, delegate of the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, did the same, calling him a "great example of social and interreligious harmony".

He used Raja's story to urge Pakistani Muslims to help those in need, without discrimination. Since the pandemic, in some parts of Pakistan, the Christian population has been denied food aid.

A well-known cleric, Sahibzada Asim Makhdoom, deems this unacceptable; in his view, Pakistani Muslims should help their Christian brothers.

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