An Exclusive Interview by Parvez Iqbal, President Pakistan Christian Congress Holland Chapter with persecuted family during his visit to Pakistan.
|(Interview recorded on 10 May, 2014 in Karachi, Pakistan)
After formal greeting and welcome, I introduced myself as Parvez Iqbal, President, Pakistan Christian Congress Holland Chapter and recording this interview for Pakistan Christian Post (an on line newspaper by PCC). Introducing PCP, briefly informed that for more than three decades, Pakistan Christian Congress is the largest non-government organization in Pakistan struggling and raising voice for Christians in Pakistan as well as Pakistani Christians around the globe for their basic rights, protection and safety of their lives, honor and properties on all forums to bring them to peaceful and protected life with all basic needs and rights.
I also informed them, Mr. Sylvester Nadeem, in December 2013 contacted me through our Head Office and requested to help as much as possible to explain his problem with regard to his asylum procedure in Holland. I explained Mr. S. Nadeem that indeed PCC will stand with him but not very fast and blindly. As per our policy, we need some clarification and facts to know the real situation and truths of the problem and after having everything clear and satisfactory, we raise our voice as much as we can and to struggle for his legal rights of protection and respectful life ahead.
I travelled down to Pakistan to attend PCC Youth Conference in Lahore and planned to visit them to know more facts and realities about problems of this family and to bring them to the competent authorities for all possible support as per rules and provisions of the country. I also showed my hope that Mrs. S, Nadeem will tell us the real picture and facts of the incident that lead the family to get apart, face hardships for daily life and ask protection for future ahead.
PCP: Mrs. S. Nadeem please first introduce briefly yourself and your family
Mrs. S. Nadeem: My name is Mrs. Sofia Nadeem wife of Sylvester Nadeem married 25 years ago living in Karachi Pakistan and having two sons, youngest Steve Adnan is with me. My elder sons Stallone Zeeshan is not at home because He is most of the time stay far from home by living and rotating from family to family because of his own safety and protection.
PCP: Why the same situation is not with younger son?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: Because my elder son is known by face by the Maluvis and Muslim peoples of the area and also after his father’s escape, he was responsible to take care of all our daily life need; Muslims extremists often search him to catch. Therefore we decided to keep him rotating and stay away from home to keep him safe from evil eyes and actions of Muslim peoples of the area. About my younger son, I asked him to change his outlook and stay at home most of the time. But I cant keep him as house arrest, sometimes he goes out for routine shopping etc but with extra alert and care.
PCP: Now please narrate briefly the problem you and your family are facing.
Mrs. S, Nadeem: After our marriage we were having a stabled happy life. God has blessed us with two sons, My Husband Sylvester Nadeem and I were having respectable job with enough earning to raise up our children and spend God fearing life happily. My Husband was active in Community services and church activities. He had very good reputation in the community and became pastor now about seven years. He was with the outreach ministry of the church, there once he meet a Muslim young boy who became in continuous contacts of my husband and was very keen to know about Christianity and teachings of Lord Jesus. He asked for Bible, which my husband provided him. He was so convinced and decided to accept Lord Jesus as his savior and became Christian through my husband. My husband brought him to the church where Bishop Khadim Bhutto of our church Baptized him in presence of few members of our church. Thereafter actual problem was started for our family. Family of the boy, Maluvis and Muslims community became very angry to my husband and after filing a false case in local police station against my husband under Blasphemy Laws started grave threatening time to time. My husband discussed with church members and Bishop Khadim Bhutto advised him to remain out of the scene by hiding himself. Knowing the situation and experiences with Christians in this same situation, our church administration decided to arrange my husband escape from the homeland as a try to add few more years in his life. Luckily my husband managed his escape with help of family, friends and Church members.
PCP: For how long your husband is away from home and how is your family situation?
Reply: Mrs. S. Nadeem, This is third year of his escape, since he was the head of our family and in our society he was responsible to take care of us but after his escape as a women I am facing troubles both by the society as well as local police. They often disturb us to search my husband and create problems for us, therefore we move time to time to our relatives to hide ourselves, but knowing our situation our relatives are avoiding to give us shelter and stand in help to keep them out of danger. Than we don’t see any other option but to turn back to our own home with all risks of life and grave threats.
PCP: why don’t you approach to higher police authorities to ask protection and help?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: I personally have never approached to any higher officer, but when my husband was here, he tried to get help, but Deputy Superintendent of Police of the area, refused and advised to report to the police station as proper channel and SHO of the Police station was himself searching my husband to put him behind the bars for false allegation under blasphemy laws. Not only once but several time together with Muslim peoples, police officers raid our home to catch my husband and harm us to tell whereabouts of my husband otherwise we should be ready for dangerous actions from them. After we escape for few weeks and when feel the situation is little calm, we turn back to home. Only life has changed like a football during the match, kicked by the many players at a time.
PCP: How about your church now and Bishop?? Are they still helping you?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: As earlier said, In the beginning our church member were so kind they stood in all situation even helped and managed escape of my husband outside the country. After my husband, the Muslim peoples started threatening the Bishop Khadim Bhutto for he baptized the Muslim boy. First Bishop Khadim Bhutto hides himself to save him but on increase of danger to him, he has also escaped from the country with the same situation leaving behind his family. So two families are destroyed for one Baptism of Muslim Boy. Now our church has stopped us to enter in the church even for Sunday services and all other activities. So I can say openly that in trouble times, no one stand to support, neither the relatives nor the church family, Law enforcement agencies and our Society.
PCP: Did you faced any problem, before this incident of Muslim Boy?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: No, I already said that life was smooth and our home was a model of happiness.
PCP: How many other peoples were motivated by your husband and were baptized?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: This Muslim boy was the first and last who was motivated by my husband and baptized. His first Conversion leads him to escape and leave us behind in troubles all over.
PCP: How often your husband discussed this problem with you and children?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: As we lives in a male dominated society, men never discuss things at home and with wives. In the beginning of this problem my husband did not shared with us but kept silent and we noticed his worries, but when the trouble increased he explained to us.
PCP: You have shown me a document Fatwaa (Decree) issued against your husband by the Muslim peoples, how you knew about this and how you got it?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: As I said my younger son goes outside, once he saw this speeded and pasted in surrounding area. He informed me and I discussed this with my husband. My husband asked to get one or two copies of this Fatwaa (Decree). I asked my son to take out from some of the wall with all care. He some time during the dark took this out from one of the wall.
PCP: What will be outcome of this Fatwaa (Decree) you think?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: In this Fatwaa (Decree) they have clearly mentioned that my Husband is liable to be killed for violation of Blasphemy Laws. And one who will do this as Jihad will be treated as True Muslim and get special favor of God. So if any one of them sees my husband, he will kill my husband as per the motivation of this Fatwaa (Decree)
PCP: You have also shown me a letter of Rev. Shafique, is he one helping you in this situation?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: After escape of Bishop Khadim Bhutto and closing the doors of our church for me and my children, I approached Rev. Shafique and asked him for help. He told me clearly the with regard to issuance of this letter is ok but he cannot help openly because of his own safety and dangers.
PCP : After hearing all you said, in my opinion, your husband did not had much experience of handling such issues and lack of due knowledge put himself and you with your children in this critical situation of life threats. What are your views on my opinion?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: On some points you are right; indeed he was active and keen to do as much as he can to full fill his responsibilities as Pastor. But he was not aware of this situation. He and we did expected that as a result of one conversion, so many enemies will raise up to kill my husband and destroy us. He was sincere with his religion and his innocence leads him to this situation.
PCP: Do you know what happened to the boy converted as Christian by your husband?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: As I know, he was also succeeded to escape and his whereabouts are not known to us. Honestly we never tried to know more about him as enough damage was made to us due this Muslim boy.
PCP: What you expect from Pakistan Christian Congress, after this interview?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: I am not sure how much Pakistan Christian Congress can help us but as I know through you peoples our voice will be spreaded to the concerned authorities, Human Right Organizations, and United Nations to know them how the Christian families are suffering after head of the family managed his escape to save his life. Up till now few and only the key victims of Blasphemy Laws against Christians in Pakistan have been highlighted, but nobody considers or even think about the family left behind as co-victims. No one even like to listen, how as woman, I am taking care of my two sons and my self for life, honor and daily life needs. In these years, I have experienced that not only the Law enforcement agencies and our society has become against us to suck our blood on standing and shining daylights but also our family members and church peoples has turned their faces and left us in troubles. (Mrs. S. Nadeem lost her emotions and started to wipe up her tears with her Shawl) controlling herself she continued, Its ok life must moves on, we keep struggling un till we breath.
PCP: Sorry I did not meant to scratch your wounds, but in the end of this would you like to add something?
Mrs. S. Nadeem: Brother, I am happy still someone from Pakistan Christian Congress, felt our pain and stepped forward to listen our troubles. Otherwise every one enjoy with our situation, treat us as animals and think whatever they want can do to us including hanging till stoppage of our heartbeats. I am thankful to you for long distance travelling and spearing time to listen us as neglected and helpless citizens of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Through this I would like to appeal to readers and competent relevant authorities to please consider us as human beings and respectful part of the society on this earth all over. We are labeled here as agents of White peoples and Jews, but when we approach for life safety outside our homeland, we face same neglected attitude that really destroy and damages our souls too. My Appeal is together and united with my husband and children Please Give us ONLY life and its safety. We'll struggle and work hard for our life needs and never be a burden on any one or on any Government but we contribute to uplift the status and development of country of our residence with abiding of all rules and regulations. Thank You.
After completion of this interview, I also meet Rev. Shafique in his Church to confirm the contents of this interview narrated by Mrs. S. Nadeem. Rev. Shafique had confirmed the happenings with this family are genuine and said instead he and his church want to help them in any way, but due to their own life risks and dangers, they cannot say anything openly or re-act publically and they are praying for them regularly that Lord may open doors for their re-unification and success in life.
During and after this Interview, I have taken some photographs with this family and Rev. Shafique, but keeping in mind their protection and safety, cannot publish for public views. Some other relevant information are taken out for the same reason.
Mr. Nazir Bhatti, President, Pakistan Christian Congress, myself (Parvez Iqbal) as President Pakistan Christian Congress, Holland Chapter, PCP's Central Committee and PCC members wish this family a safe and happy life ahead.