'It seems outrageous that ex-Taliban fighters who have shed British blood are allowed to stay in Britain. We know Christians are being persecuted for their faith in Pakistan. Yet it is fine for Christians, who have the faith of the established Church in this country, to be thrown out."
Miss Widdecombe's comments were echoed by Nasir Saeed, The director of the Centre for Legal Aid; Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), a London and Lahore-based charity helping Pakistan's Christian minority. He said: "No one wants to know of the plight of ChrisÂtians.
He is campaigning on behalf of Naeern Pasha, one of 100 Christians from Pakistan seeking asylum in the Britain. 40Â year-old convert to ChristianÂity, Mr Pasha's finger was diced off by Islamic extremists in Pakistan. The Home Office have ordered him back to Pakistan where he faces imprisonment and death, under the terms of Pakistan's strict blasphemy law.
Churches both in Britain and Pakistan have begged the British Government to allow Mr -Pasha to remain here. "Paaha's church has written a letter explaining he will be persecuted if he goes back home. Pasha's church in London have also written a letter testifying Pasha Is a regular worshipper. What What more do the Home 'office more need?' said Mr Sated, who is filing a human against the Home Office Decision. the on Mr Pasha.
In a letter on Mr Pasha's case, the Home office states that Christians are safe in Pakistan, an Islamic state since 1973. "It is believed that the majority of Christians are free to practise their religion withÂout interference or harassment by the authorities," stated the letter, although acknowledging "in certain instances individual Christians in Pakistan have experienced difficulties, _ mainly instigated by religious extremists".
The _letter then refers to a recent ban on extremist groups by General Pervez Musharraf, the country's President the saying: "the Government has taken recent Steps to Curb religious extremism and address the intimidation of religious minorities" But Mr Sated. Responded: "The President may have put a ' ban on a number of fundaÂmentalist groups, but he hasn't been able to stop their' activiÂties. They are still carrying them out. For maniple, there was on, attack on the diocesan peace & commission in Karachi after his ban.
"The State has given the Church police guard on Sundays at Masses but this is not enough .if there is no threat to Christians why are the police guarding churches?
The Home Secretary says that according to the constitution we have equal rights. However, according to the constitution
A Christian cannot be a President or th prime minister and it is written in the constitution that Christians cannot be head of any organisation. The House Office appears to think there is religious freedom but openly you cannot confess your faith. We can't say that Christ is the Son of God in public. To do so is to be charged with blasÂphemy."
The Home Office stated that 'Pasha had provided "false information" to obtain a visitor's visa to the United KingÂdom. "Under British law no one can apply far asylum from their home country. So 100 percent come illegally. If the Home Office want people to tell the truth they should change the law," said Mr Saeed who last year published Faith -Under Fire, a report on Christians in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, CLAAS provides a free legal aid centre for Christians charged under the blasphemy laws. When necessary, CLAAS staff has hidden Christians fearing further attacks from Islam extremists.
"A few times the Government intelligence services has raided our office in Lahore and have accused us of spying for the West. Our phones are tapped and they even check our postage," said Mr Saeed.
For further information, c to make a donation, write to CLAAS-UK, PO Box 81, Southall, Middlesex, UB 5YQ