Bishop Azad Marshall, Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, has been visiting churches and Christian communities who were violently attacked in Jaranwala, Pakistan, last week. He called for an end to Judicial Apartheid through fair and equal application of laws between the majority and minority populations, aiming to prevent future incidents similar to those in Jaranwala. Currently, the application of laws on the Christian population is different from the same laws which apply to the Muslim population, which, according to Bishop Azad, is why problems arise.
Christian and Muslim leaders have joined forces and are working together to lobby the government in ensuring that the laws are equal for all.
At a joint press conference on Saturday 19 August, flanked by fellow religious leaders, including Muslim clerics, Bishop Azad stated that the division needs to be met with peace and resolve.
He also said: “people need to be restored in their homes and in their churches. I have seen even after four days churches are still in darkness, there is no electricity. We request that the government restore the electricity immediately. We know the danger because the lines are broken but we also know there are ways that this can be restored.”
On Sunday, Bishop Azad presided over services in Jaranwala, including at the Salvation Army church which had been attacked and “where dedicated members persevered despite the absence of water and electricity. Their building remains unusable, yet a sizable gathering came together. With tears, we sang, prayed and read scriptures seeking understanding and experiencing the presence of Jesus among us,” he said. Approximately 20 churches continue to endure challenges without basic amenities.
Bishop Azad reflected on government officials and Chief Minister of Punjab, Moshin Naqvi’s visit: “Following his reassuring speech brimming with promises of support, he was caught off guard by a young girl from Jaranwala who broke through the Cabinet members around His Excellency Mohsin Naqvi Saab. Her questions continue to resonate: ‘Can you guarantee this won’t happen again? Can you ensure our safety? Can you confirm that I, as a Pakistani Christian, am valued?’ Her query has sparked numerous additional questions in my mind too. It demands an answer: equal laws for equal citizens.”