Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Minorities Under Attack in Pakistan.


Pakistani minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti with Ashif Masih, right, husband of Christian woman Asia Bibi who had been sentenced to death. – AP (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: Gunmen shot and killed Pakistan’s government minister for religious minorities on Wednesday, the latest attack on a high-profile Pakistani figure who had urged reforming harsh blasphemy laws that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam. Shahbaz Bhatti was on his way to work in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, when unknown gunmen riddled his car with bullets, police officer Mohmmad Iqbal said. The minister arrived dead at Shifa Hospital and his driver was also wounded badly, hospital spokesman Asmatullah Qureshi said. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but private Pakistani TV channels showed pamphlets at the scene of the killing that were attributed to the Pakistani Taliban warning of the same fate for anyone opposing the blasphemy laws. Gulam Rahim was coming from a nearby market when he saw Bhatti’s car drive out of his house. Three men standing nearby with guns suddenly began firing at the vehicle, a dark-colored Toyota. Two of the men opened the door and tried to pull Bhatti out, Rahim said, while a third man fired his Kalashnikov rifle repeatedly into the car. The three gunmen then sped away in a white Suzuki Mehran car, said Rahim who took shelter behind a tree.

Why Shahbaz Bhatti was Assassinated?


URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqoxQNktbRY
Courtesy: BBC Pakistan Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti shot dead 2 March 2011 Last updated at 13:35 GMT http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12617562

Christians in Danger - Pakistan


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3xOf_Fki94

Christian persecution in Pakistan


URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mZDJgtb6ok

Jang Group/GEO TV Published the Fatwa of Murder of Salman Taseer.
http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2011/01/jang-groupgeo-tv-published-fatwa-of.html


Pakistani TV channels showed Bhatti’s vehicle afterward, its windows shattered with bullet holes all over. It was not immediately clear why Bhatti, a member of the ruling Pakistani People’s Party, did not have bodyguards with him.

Pakistani government leaders condemned the attack. “This is concerted campaign to slaughter every liberal, progressive and humanist voice in Pakistan,” said Farahnaz Ispahani, an aide to President Asif Ali Zardari. “The time has come for the federal government and provincial governments to speak out and to take a strong stand against these murderers to save the very essence of Pakistan.” Bhatti’s friend Robinson Asghar said the slain minister had received threats following the death of the Punjab governor. Asghar said he had asked Bhatti to leave Pakistan for a while because of the threats, but that Bhatti had refused. Pakistan’s information minister, Firdous Ashiq Awan, said Bhatti had played a key role in promoting interfaith harmony, and he was a great asset. We are sad over his tragic death,” she said, adding that the government would investigate why he did not have a security escort. REFERENCE: Minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti assassinated AP http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/02/minorities-minister-attacked-in-islamabad.html

Muslim Persecution of Christians in Pakistan


URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMslaw_tt-Q

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan Minister for Minorities, is receiving death threats for pursuing justice for Gojra victims

By Dan Wooding and Sheraz Khurram Khan


Special to ASSIST News Service ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities, Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, has received death threats from members of banned militant organizations for pursuing justice for victims of Gojra violence, ANS has learnt from well-placed sources.

Gojra, a small town in province Punjab of Pakistan, exploded into the
Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti
international limelight when Muslims set on fire over fifty houses on August 1, following rumors that Christians had committed blasphemy. Some seven Christians lost their lives as a result of the incident and the brutal attack left scores of Christians injured. Most of Christian residents of the area have fled the town fearing more trouble from extremists. 

What has alerted Mr. Bhatti is that Pakistan's religious affairs minister, Hamid Syed Kazmir, was wounded and his driver killed in a drive-by shooting in the capital Islamabad on September 2, 2009. ANS has learned that Mr. Bhatti has received written letters and messages from militants, warning him to stop campaigning against misuse of blasphemy laws and pursuing justice for victims of Gojra. On September 4, 2009 the Bhatti testified before the Inquiry Commission which was set up to look into the Gojra tragedy.
ANS has also learnt that statements of some militant elements have also been published in some sections of Pakistani print media in which they have warned that they would not allow anyone to touch the country’s controversial blasphemy laws. 

Shahbaz Bhatti, who is also the chairman of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), an umbrella organization of minorities, has been campaigning for the protection of minority rights, religious freedom and the repeal of all discriminatory laws against minorities in Pakistan since 1985. In the past, Mr. Bhatti has faced an assassination attempt, torture and victimization for raising a voice against Pakistan Sharia Laws and injustices against minorities. He has been a vocal voice against the defunct militant groups, who are involved in violence and terrorism in Pakistan. Mr. Bhatti has vehemently condemned violence against the Christians of Korian and Gojra and stood with the victims in their difficult time. 

On August 2, 2009, when the victims of Gojra violence had blocked the railway track and were demanding registration of Police First Information Report (FIR) against the culprits of the attacks, the local government did not heed to their demand and instead started employing dilly-dallying tactics which further dampened their hope of the Christians ever getting justice.

The Federal Minister joined the protesting victims and staged a sit-in along with the victims who were protesting by laying bodies of the Christians, who had lost their lives in the wake of Gojra violence. Mr. Bhatti on that occasion had announced that he would not go from the scene until the FIR was lodged. This statement had the desired effect and prompted the authorities to lodge FIR against the culprits. Expressing solidarity with them, the Federal Minister also asked the protesting victims to remain peaceful. 

The Federal Minister also accompanied Pakistan Prime Minister, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, Chief Minister of Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, and other members of parliament during the visit to Gojra. Pakistan Federal Minister for Interior Rehman Malik has said that the government would not allow anyone to destabilize Pakistan and the country’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, and Prime Minister, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, have vowed that Pakistan would continue to fight against terrorism. Several minority leaders in Pakistan have expressed concern over Mr. Bhatti’s safety in the wake of the death threats to him by militants. They have appealed to Christian brethren across the world to pray for him at this difficult time. http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2009/s09090035.htm

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_vW1GG83Zr1U/TTHwyObV5uI/AAAAAAAAHx8/SBMZrPmpnDE/s1600/SCP.gifISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked that it was a criminal negligence to bring changes in the documents like Objectives Resolution as former president General (retd) Zia ul Haq tampered with the Constitution in 1985 however, the sitting parliament had done a good job by undoing this tampering. At one point Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed that the word ‘freely’ was omitted from the Objectives Resolution in 1985 by a dictator, which was an act of criminal negligence, but the then parliament surprisingly didn’t take notice of it. He said the Constitution is a sacred document and no person can tamper with it. The chief justice said credit must go to the present parliament, which after 25 years took notice of the brazen act of removing the word relating to the minorities’ rights, and restored the word ‘freely’ in the Objectives Resolution, which had always been part of the Constitution. The chief justice further said that the court is protecting the fundamental rights of the minorities and the government after the Gojra incident has provided full protection to the minorities. “We are bound to protect their rights as a nation but there are some individual who create trouble.” - DAILY TIMES - ISLAMABAD: Heading a 17-member larger bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry termed as criminal negligence the deletion of a word about the rights of minorities from the Objectives Resolution during the regime of General Ziaul Haq in 1985. Ziaul Haq had omitted the word “freely” from the Objectives Resolution, which was made substantive part of the 1973 Constitution under the Revival of Constitutional Order No. 14. The clause of Objectives Resolution before deletion of the word ‘freely’ read, “Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities to ‘freely’ profess and practice their religions and develop their culture.” DAILY DAWN - ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Tuesday praised the parliament for undoing a wrong done by the legislature in 1985 (through a constitutional amendment) when it removed the word ‘freely’ from a clause of the Objectives Resolution that upheld the minorities’ right to practise their religion. The word “freely” was deleted from the Objectives Resolution when parliament passed the 8th Amendment after indemnifying all orders introduced through the President’s Order No 14 of 1985 and actions, including the July 1977 military takeover by Gen Zia-ul-Haq and extending discretion of dissolving the National Assembly, by invoking Article 58(2)b of the Constitution. After the passage of the 18th Amendment, the Objectives Resolution now reads: “Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religions and develop their culture.” The CJ said: “Credit goes to the sitting parliament that they reinserted the word back to the Objectives Resolution.” He said that nobody realised the blunder right from 1985 till the 18th Amendment was passed, even though the Objectives Resolution was a preamble to the Constitution even at the time when RCO (Revival of Constitution Order) was promulgated. REFERENCES: CJ lauds parliament for correcting historic wrong By Nasir Iqbal Wednesday, 09 Jun, 2010 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/ziaera-deletion-from-objectives-resolution-criticised-cj-lauds-parliament-for-correcting-historic-wrong-960 - CJP raps change in Objectives Resolution * Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry says deletion of clause on rights of minorities was ‘criminal negligence’ * Appreciates incumbent parliament for taking notice of removal of clause by Gen Zia’s govt in 1985 By Masood Rehman Wednesday, June 09, 2010 http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201069\story_9-6-2010_pg1_1 CJ lauds parliament for undoing changes in Objectives Resolution Wednesday, June 09, 2010 Says minorities’ rights have to be protected; Hamid says parliament should have no role in judges’ appointment By Sohail Khan http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=29367

Christian persecution in Pakistan-Incident in Gojra


URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWf7Vn2fLOs

Ugly Role of Samaa TV & Meher Bokhari in Salman Taseer's Murder.
http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2011/01/ugly-role-of-samaa-tv-meher-bokhari-in.html


Gojra Attack Part 1 VCD


URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXhmWyNZDnk&feature=related

Pakistani Frenzied Media (JANG/GEO) Murdered "Salman Taseer".
http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2011/01/pakistani-frenzied-media-janggeo.html



Gojra Attack Part 2 VCD


URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qNRSkI6mX0&feature=related





A burnt house of a Christian family in Azafi Abadi at Chak 95-JB on Gojra-Faisalabad Road. – Photo by White Star - Courtesy Daily Dawn Pakistan Christians’ homes burnt over ‘desecration’ dated Sat, 01 Aug, 2009 Sha'aban 09, 1430 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/christians-homes-burnt-over-desecration-189

Burning Questions


1 - A JUDGMENT by the High Court in Lahore is worrying Pakistan's Christians. The court decided recently that Pakistan's blasphemy laws are applicable to all the phrophets of Islam. Jesus is a prophet in Islamic teaching. By worshipping Jesus as the son of God, Christians are, it could be argued, committing a blasphemy. The Bible itself, which Islamic scholars regard as not strictly factual, might be reckoned to contain blasphemies against Abraham, Noah, David and Jacob, all of whom are in the Islamic canon. Blasphemy carries the death sentence in Pakistan. Reference: Prophet and loss: Pakistan. (blasphemy law) The Economist (US) May 7, 1994. http://www.encyclopedia.com/The+Economist+(US)/publications.aspx?pageNumber=1

Christian Attacked in Gojra Pakistan


URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIrDA0qN9Qw&feature=related

Business Recorder/AAJ TV "Justifies" Salman Taseer's Murder & Support Martial Law. http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2011/01/business-recorderaaj-tv-justifies.html

2 - The two cleaners from Jhang district, 300 miles south of Islamabad, were jailed by a Faisalabad court in 1999 under Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws, having been wrongly accused of burning a copy of the Koran. Because the law can be invoked on the word of just one witness, it is frequently manipulated by Muslims to settle scores or rouse religious tensions. Reference: Pakistan's blasphemy laws used to persecute non-Muslims Massoud Ansari in Lahore and Michael Hirst Published: 12:01AM BST 25 Jun 2006 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1522285/Pakistans-blasphemy-laws-used-to-persecute-non-Muslims.html

GOJRA Christians massacre was due to hate announcements from Mosques A Shocking Report


URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXnLtuEPI-Q&feature=related


Jang Group "Justifies" the Murder of Salman Taseer because of "FATWA"! But? http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2011/02/jang-group-justifies-murder-of-salman.html
3 - Lahore: March 2, 2009. (SLMP report) Two Christians named Wallayat Masih son of Saraina Masih alias Sala resident of village Maloki District Kasur and Mushtaq Masih son of Sooba Masih resident of Kareem Park Bank Stop Lahore have been charged under blasphemy law vide case registered vide First Information Report (FIR) No. 33 dated 1st March 2009, under section 295 B & C with police station Theh Shaikham District Kasur, both have been arrested and presently detained in the local police station. 7 team members from CLAAS and SLMP visited village Maloki for fact finding today on 2nd March 2009. Mr. Joseph Francis the National Director Center for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement (CLAAS) and Chief Coordinator Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP) led the team. Reference: Two Christians Charged Under Blasphemy Law in Kasur, Punjab. July 6, 2009, 2:36 pm http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=1003

4 - Pakistan's human rights commission has reacted strongly after the country's military ruler gave up plans to change the way in which a controversial blasphemy law is implemented. A number of Islamic organisations had threatened to hold demonstrations on Friday to protest against the proposed changes. But General Musharraf has said that he now plans to leave the laws completely unchanged. Bishop John Joseph killed himself in protest at the blasphemy laws. Reference: Pakistan's blasphemy law U-turn Wednesday, 17 May, 2000 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/751803.stm

5 - Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Bishop John Joseph, who committed suicide in 1998 to protest the blasphemy law, was recalled today in a mass in the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul in Faisalabad. Mgr Andrew Francis of Multan and Mgr Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad participated in the celebration, together with dozens of priests. In his homily, the bishop of Multan described Mgr Joseph as a "perennial voice of ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue", who "preached the words of the Gospel with all his life". Reference: Mgr John Joseph, blasphemy martyr, remembered by Qaiser Felix 05/06/2006 17:59 http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=6099 - Analysis: Pakistan's Christian minority Monday, 29 October, 2001 - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1625976.stm

Dunya TV - DUNYA INVESTIGATION CELL - 08-08-09 -1


URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PTLY76MMA8&feature=related

’یہ قاتل میڈیا ہے‘
آخری وقت اشاعت: پير 10 جنوری 2011 ,‭ 16:39 GMT 21:39 PST
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/multimedia/2011/01/110110_abbas_athar_media_taseer_uk.shtml
سلمان تاثیر کے قتل اور میڈیا میں ان کے قاتل کی کوریج پر سینیئر صحافی اور ایکسپریس اخبار کے ایڈیٹر عباس اطہر سے گفتگو

6 - "As it was the unanimous demand of the Ulema, Mashaikh and the people, therefore, I have decided to do away with the procedural change in registration of FIR under the blasphemy law" (General Musharraf, Dawn 17.5.2000). How was public opinion determined? No one asked me! Is the reference to ulema and mashaikh to the self-proclaimed ones or men and women of Islamic learning? And did populism prevail over Islam? Why was no attempt made to enter into a debate, or at least a learned Islamic discourse? What was the role of the two ministers (religious affairs and law) who are primarily concerned with this issue? One does not recollect any valuable contribution from these two sources. Reference: NEED TO CHECK MISUSE OF BLASPHEMY LAW (28 May 2000) EDITOR'S NOTE: An article entitled "Need to Check Misuse of Blasphemy Law" by Qazi Faez Isa, was published in DAWN, Karachi, on Sunday, May 28, 2000 http://ecumene.org/INRFVVP/blasphemy.htm

7 - The blasphemy laws were legislated and subsequently made more strict to ensure protection to the minorities. But some recent incidents have shown that even the Muslims were victimized under the present blasphemy law on the complaint of other fellow Muslims. The most recent example is provided by gory murder of Yusuf Kizab in the Kot Lakhpat Jail by an activist of the banned Sipahe-i-Sahaba. Yusuf had been sentenced to death sentence under the blasphemy laws. The worst example was the suicide of Father John Joseph some four years ago. On the eve of May 6, 1998 Dr Joseph, the Bishop of Faisalabad, committed suicide in front of the Sessions Court, Sahiwal to protest against the death sentence of a Christian Ayub Masih, pronounced by the court under the blasphemy law. Reference: The Impact of The Blasphemy Law by Mohammad Shehzad Issue No.4, September 2002 Copyright © The DAWN Group of Newspapers http://www.sikhspectrum.com/092002/shehzad.htm

Dunya TV - DUNYA INVESTIGATION CELL - 08-08-09 -2


URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9oiuk5e1Kw

8 - The barbaric murder of Jagdeesh Kumar, accused of blasphemy by some of his workmates at a garment factory in Karachi, brings out in sharp focus once again the exposed and vulnerable situation of non-Muslims in a Pakistan still wedded to the legacy of General Zia-ul-Haq. When the police finally intervened, the body of the 22-year-old victim had been mutilated and disfigured beyond recognition: among other things the eyes had been gouged out. The reports published indicate that he was a quiet man, from a poverty-stricken Hindu family belonging to some obscure village in the Sindh desert. People with such a depressed and vulnerable background come to factories to seek out a miserable living, not to engage in religious controversies. In the days and weeks ahead, we will learn that some petty personal quarrel or irrational hatred of a Hindu was the real reason for his murder. Reference: Blasphemy and persecution by Ishtiaq Ahmed Saturday, April 26, 2008 http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=108906


Dunya TV - DUNYA INVESTIGATION CELL - 08-08-09 -3


URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddRh4c5IWgs

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Text/Report to support questions.


HRCP Annual Report - State of Human Rights in 2008 http://www.hrcp-web.org/3-2%20freedom%20of%20thought%202008.pdf


Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
... It is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order ... wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and public morality.
Constitution of Pakistan

Preamble

Subject to law, public order and morality (a) every citizen shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate his religion; and (b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.

Article 20

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 18

No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice. No one shall be subject to discrimination by any state, institution, group of persons, or person on the grounds of religion or other belief.

Reserved seats for minorities in parliament

The system of reserved seats for minorities and women introduced by President Musharraf in 2002 failed to fulfil the required objective of giving a political voice to minorities. The minorities’ representatives in the assemblies usually followed the line of the party that got them elected and not the interest of their communities. In early February, the World Minorities’ Alliance Convener, Mr. J. Salik, said the current system did not allow any minority person to contest elections independently on the minorities’ seat. He had challenged that process in the Supreme Court in 2002 but to date no hearing had been set. (N, Feb 6) A minority representative said: “When the Hasba Bill was approved in the NWFP, two persons elected by the MMA on reserved seats also voted for it. This instance showed that representatives of religious minorities elected on reserved seats were not free to pursue private agendas”. (DT, Feb 24)

Freedom of Religion

Ahmadis

As in previous years, the spread of hatred against the Ahmadis continued. At least six Ahmadis were murdered because of their faith during 2008.

An anchorperson of a popular TV channel held a prime-hour discussion commemorating the 1974 amendment to the Constitution declaring Ahmadis as “not Muslims”. The programme ended with a verdict by a participating mufti, of an extremist school, that the Ahmadis deserved to be murdered for deviating from the view of the finality of the prophethood of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Neither the TV channel nor the anchorperson was chastised by the government for the virulent broadcast. Following the TV discussion, three Ahmadis were shot dead in early September – Dr. Abdul Mannan Siddiqui in Mirpurkhas, Seth Yusuf, a Nawabshah trader, and Sheikh Saeed at his pharmacy in Karachi. (D, Sep 21)

In Lahore in late May the International Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Movement (IKNM) announced a moot to be held at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal. IKMN Ameer MPA Maulana Ilyas Chinoti added the moot would mark a hundred years of successfully countering Qadiyaniat. (N, May 23)

In Faisalabad in early June, a mob of 300 college students barged into the rooms of Ahmadi students, beat them up and threw their belongings out of their rooms. The boarders also stole valuables from the Ahmadi students. The Punjab Medical College (PMC) through a notification rusticated 23 Ahmadi students on the report of the disciplinary committee. It was alleged that they were preaching and distributing Ahmadi literature. (DT, Sep 9) The students suffered harassment and interruption in their studies for months before they were allowed to resume their studies. In Shabqadar, Charsadda district, local clerics refused to lead the funeral prayers for a man believed to be an Ahmadi. The local clerics issued a fatwa (decree) that the deceased had become an Ahmadi and, therefore, no one would lead his funeral prayers. (DT, Sep 23)

Christians

The Christian community was discriminated against and the marginalisation of an already poor and disenfranchised community continued with the State offering virtually no protection. In early January, dozens of Christians held a protest outside the Lahore Press Club against the occupation of their homes in Bakar Mandi by influential people with the support of the government. The protesters said they had been living on the government property since pre-partition time but now they were being forced out. They said that the residents were very poor and had no means to buy houses; they had no shelter and had been left with no option but to commit suicide along with their children. (N, Jan 7)

In late February, the Christian residents of Chananpura, Bakar Mandi, claimed that they were under siege by “land grabbers” who continued to harass and threaten them despite an ongoing civil lawsuit to decide ownership of the disputed land. The residents claimed that armed men, acting on behalf of the alleged land-grabbers, stripped and beat one of their young men, Faqirah Masih. They also hurled threats at him of bulldozers demolishing their prepartition homes. (D, Feb 23)

In Lahore, two minority councillors were injured during a scuffle in a meeting of the Lahore district council when they had attempted to move a resolution against a blast that damaged a church and also draw attention to the Freedom of thought, conscience and religion 7 7

illegal occupation of the Church of Christ in Garden Town by land grabbers. (D, Mar 17)

In late May, Christians protested against the Defence Housing Society, Lahore, for desecration and bulldozing of the graves in a Christian graveyard situated on Walton Road. The Christians alleged that they were being stopped from burying their dead in the graveyard. In June, 20 minority members of the Christian community, in Peshawar, were kidnapped and beaten up at a charity dinner for the members. The attackers, who came in land cruisers and pick-up trucks, attacked the Christians who were in the middle of their prayers. The attackers threatened them of similar attacks in the future if the “Christian community did not mend its ways”. (D, Jun 22)

Hindus

The Hindus of the scheduled class were neglected and ignored in every walk of life. At a conference at the Lahore Press Club, the Haray Rama Foundation and Guru Gorakh Naath Sewa Mandal director protested that there was no lower caste Hindu or other caste MPA or MNA representing the non-Muslims in Punjab. He stated that the lower caste was given no representation in the 10 national assembly and 23 provincial assembly seats. (N, Jan 5) In Hyderabad, the low caste Hindus staged a demonstration outside the press club protesting discrimination towards them by successive governments. They said that the lower caste constituted 95 percent of the Hindu population; the 5 percent upper caste Hindus became MPAs and MNAs and patronised only their own class. (D, Oct 26)

Sikhs

The Sikhs had no representation in parliament and could not hope to have their issues taken up. In Lahore, Dr. Swaran Singh of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara stated Sikhs in the country (about 12,000 in number) faced social and political problems because of a lack of direct access to the government. While Christians and Hindus had representations in the government, Sikhs had none. Many Sikh youths were deprived of quality higher education because there was no scholarship quota in the Higher Education Commission. Further, the poor Sikhs did not receive financial relief from the government. Christian and Hindu widows received Rs 5, 000 per month but the Sikh widows were deprived. (DT, May 3)

Blasphemy laws and their victims

In Karachi, a Hindu factory worker, Jagdeesh Kumar, was killed outside his workplace by a mob, which comprised of many of his colleagues. He was allegedly accused of blasphemy. The law enforcement agencies did nothing to save the young man. (D, Apr 26, May 11) In early May, Dr Robin, of Hafizabad, who had lived and served in that town for thirty years was booked under Section 295- C of the Pakistan Penal Code. The doctor was charged with blasphemy when he joked with a patient about the latter’s unruly beard. After incitement by a local Imam, hundreds of residents marched to Dr. Robin’s residence threatening to kill him and his family. While the mob encircled Dr. Robin’s house, law enforcers stood by and watched the whole episode silently. A Christian welfare organisation rescued the doctor and Jagdeesh Kumar: Done to death by his co-workers. State 7 8 ate of Human Rights in 2008 his family from likely death. Dr. Robin was put in jail and the uprooted Robin family had to go into hiding to escape the anger of religious extremists.

Demolition of places of worship

In Lahore, members of the Christian community protested against the demolition of a church in Garden Town, desecration of the holy Bible and illegally occupation of the land. The Church of Christ was constructed in 1963 and had been a place of worship since then. (DT, Jan 25). In protest, Sunday prayers were offered on the road in front of the demolished church. The participants said the police and d i s t r i c t administration had remained silent spectators despite the desecration. (D, Feb 15)

Recommendations

1. The blasphemy law was promulgated in 1985 and in 1990 the punishment under this law, which sought topenalise irreverence towards the Holy Quran and insulting the Holy Prophet (PBUH), was life imprisonment. In1992, the government introduced death penalty for a person guilty of blasphemy. Immediate abolition of ‘blasphemy’laws is needed as these provisions are often used against non-Muslims as well as Muslims to settle personal scores.

2. School curriculum has to be sensitised toward non-Muslim Pakistanis so that children feel safe, secure and equal.

3. The Ahmadis have been denied the benefit of the joint electorate system which was revived in 2002. The discrimination should be ended.

4. The Commission on Minorities should be made functional by reinforcing its independent status and providing it with the necessary resources, human as well as financial.Christians demand end to occupation of a church by the land mafia.

“UNQUOTE”

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