The Plight of Christians in Pakistan

With the growth of extremism in Pakistan, the minorities of Pakistan and particularly the Christians have become constant target at the hands of misconceived and uneducated extremist masses, who take it their religious duty to inflict the weaker religious communities of Pakistan.

Over the past years, persons of smaller religious minorities have been targeted by killing them through improvised bombs, setting their localities/villages on fire, target killing, framing in blasphemy cases, intimidation, forced marriages, forced conversions etc. the list can go on expanding. Even the lawyers, persons and NGO’s who proceed on behalf of the victims are targeted, manhandled and persecuted. A judge of the Lahore High Court Mr. Justice Iqbal Bhatti who quitted the framed accused in the famous “Salamat Masih’s Blasphemy Case” was killed outside the Lahore High Court in 1996. [More on the issue can be assessed if one Goggles “Persecution of Christians/minorities in Pakistan”.

Victims of mob justice.

When charges of “Blasphemy” are leveled against anybody, the street mob of neighborhood gets involved and performs its religious duty to punish the accused either by burning the person alive or dragging/hitting the person to death. The Police and the Government have never brought anybody to books, though many of such killing have taken place during Police and Judicial custody. [All these are on record and can be Goggled.]

Lethargic attitude of the Police, Prosecution and the Judiciary.

I was personally taken into custody in February 1997 from Christ Church, Youhanabad, Lahore for baptizing a Muslim. The police however distorted the facts and law to keep me in Judicial custody for almost a Month. During the proceedings quit a number of Muslim clergy with Quran on their heads would come to the court on each hearing to intimidate the Judge, saying that if I was granted a bail, it would tantamount to opposing Quran. This is a typical example of the way the things go in Pakistan.

After the killing of Mr. Justice Iqbal Bhatti, a judge of the Lahore High Court in 1996, the Police at times identifies with the Muslim concept of supporting Islam along with the majority of Judges and the prosecution. They either side with the extremists for the glory of Islam or are fearful due to their pressure, thus failing the “Justice System.” This is happening all over Pakistan, the result of which can clearly be seen from those accused who are in jails without getting any relief from the process of law, whereas the extremists get bail within a week. The lawyers who proceed in such cases for the accused are also given threats of dire consequences and some of them have been forced to take asylum abroad. In some cases they have been fired upon.        

A new way of framing Christians.

Over the months a new strategy by the extremists has come into light. They target particular persons, seek extortion money and intimidate Christians in the name of Islam. At times they even get “Fatwas/Religious decree” [True or false] which does not matter, because they use the overall psyche of the “Mob”, who will not investigate into the allegations made against anybody and will resort to all possible acts of extremism against the accused on the street, even going as far to burn the house of the accused.

In a very recent incident in Karachi a Christian and his family have been put to test by these elements. Keis Imran, a resident of Karachi is working in Dubai and was in Pakistan for Christmas holidays. He was asked to pay two million rupees as life money within a few days notice, which he could not and went back to Dubai, thinking that he is able to flee the extortionists and is in a safe zone. However the blackmailers were more clever. They got a “Fatwa” on a plain paper and sent it viral by distributing it in the locality where Keis lived and through e-mail to his bosses in Dubai and other in Pakistan. The intimidating part is to involve and charge the public on the street against him.

In another incident of Karachi another family living in New Mianwali colony of Mangopir are has been targeted. Arshad Puran and his brothers were targeted when they were fixing their sound system prior to Christmas [their only source of income] at home. While checking the kids of the house were shouting “Hallelujah” innocently.

This area is notorious for being a stronghold of the extremist Islamists. [This can also be Goggled] Within minutes a number of extremists were at their door and wanted the boys out so that they would teach them a lesson. The neighbors saved Arshad and his brothers from the hands of the negotiators at the moment. But the the charged Muslims returned again claiming that the boys be handed over to them. Even in this case fatwa was issued and the family got in trouble in spite of reporting the matter to police for protection.

In both of the above mentioned cases the issues were reported to local police, which miserably failed to provide protection to the victims. The police even fails to identify the intruders because of fear or siding with them.

Tailor made “Shariah” of the Taliban.

Taliban are the ruminants of the Mujhadeen from Afghan-Russian War. A few years after the Western forces left this region, the Taliban took over the control of Afghanistan with the help of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and UAE who continued to support them and even UAE and Pakistan recognized their Government. After Nine Eleven, they and their Government were haunted by US and the world community. They reunited with the support of those countries who had vested interests in the region and turned into a big force well equipped to challenge the NATO forces and the neighboring countries including Pakistan. Some of the Government and Army segments kept providing space to them enabling them to take over practical portions of Pakistan. They spread like a virus and began to attack Army installations within Pakistan along with blowing different targets inside Pakistan including Army, Police and civil instalations, so much so that they even attacked the former President of Pakistan on more than one count, killing many Generals during the conflict which continues to this day. Now they collect money through through ransom by abducting various persons, collecting extortion money on life threats, looting banks and from other means. The latest demand by them is over 50 million from “Attock Refinary which is close to Islamabad saying that otherwise they will blow it off. I understand that they wanted to harass the masses, Government and the public at large, so that nobody challenges them for fear of life.    

The Government of Pakistan wants to negotiate with them for peace. In exchange they want imposition of Sharia Law in Pakistan. Nothing against it, but if one goggles the net about their activities, one will find the picture of interpretation of a particular faction of Islam which believes in bombing of girl schools, killings by torture, harassment in all affairs of life and so on. They are within Pakistan called “Tahreek-e-Talaban Pakistan [TTP], a particular interpretation of Islam of the 5th and 6th centuries. All they want is power at their hands. Their philosophy is that if they can take over the resources of a country, they would be able to control the whole of the world. Hence the virus has spread to countries including Africa.

I wish the civilized world had invested in the enhancement of education on this region before leaving  after the Afghan-Russian and would now not be spending the amount which they are spending on “War against terrorism and their countries defenses against terrorists.        

Even the Supreme Court of Pakistan is wondering as to how the Government of Pakistan will provide protection to the religious minorities of Pakistan. The next hearing of the case is fixed for the Government to answer on the questions raised therein.

Here under is an article for reference and mention of events, written by Mr. Shamim Masih dated 13th March 2013 published in “The Lahore times, along with its link which shows a more detailed description of the “History of events faced by the Christians in Pakistan”. These are only the main events along with the state of mind prevailing in Pakistan at the Moment. The situation has deteriorated since the publication of the article.

(The author is the Bishop of Lahore)

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